As reported here, the semi-rural Hills district of Sydney has been a focal point of retirement village development, led historically by Anglicare retirement villages and Living Choice.
The Government is now saying ‘enough is enough’, with seven new villages seeking development.
Under changes introduced on 1 October 2018, developers can no longer increase the size of their development by applying for a new Site Compatibility Certificate (SCC) to include extra land unless they meet existing and new criteria.
Under NSW legislation, seniors’ development can be built on land adjoining areas zoned urban where an SCC is issued, and development approval is granted.
They must now undertake and provide a ‘cumulative impact’ assessment as part of a SCC application if the proposed site is within one kilometre of two or more other sites covered by SCC applications or issued certificates, that considers the impact of any new developments on existing and future infrastructure and services, including roads, water, sewerage and public transport.
The final decision on SCC applications will also shift to the Sydney and Regional Planning Panels from the Department of Planning and Environment.
Development applications will still be decided by local councils or independent planning panels.
Minister for Planning and Housing Anthony Roberts says the changes will keep the ‘intrusive incremental creep’ of seniors’ housing developments in check.
“We need to have a system that facilitates developers building fit for purpose accommodation for seniors, but at the same time protect the local character of an area,” he said.
The changes comes after the Hills Shire Council adopted a policy of opposing all new seniors housing developments across rural zones back in July until the planning around SCCs was changed.
Interestingly, the Daily Tele is reporting that older residents in the Hills Shire have asked the Council to support the expansion of Living Choice’s retirement village in Glenhaven.
Former Hornsby mayor Steve Russell is leading the campaign on behalf of the village, revealing there is a 150-person waitlist.
“These people have lived in the Hills all of their lives and they are accustom to living here,” he said. “They don’t want to be told how they can live in their senior years.”