Planners and Councils put on notice in new NSW Seniors Housing Guidelines – potential bonus in additional one-storey FSR bonus or height bonus

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Highlighting the difference between seniors’ housing and standard apartments for Councils and planners – and the real benefits seniors’ living can provide – is the focus of the first refresh of the NSW Seniors Housing guidelines in 15 years.

The 83-page interim guideline – prepared for the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment over two months by Calderflower Architecture – are designed to replace the current seniors housing guidelines which date back to 2004 and support the new Housing SEPP relating to residential development for seniors and people with a disability.

The guidelines provide an overview of seniors’ housing, building types and configurations plus six guiding principles for design:

  1. Care for the planet
  2. Site-specific environmental response
  3. Site-specific urban response
  4. Care, wellbeing and community
  5. Design for physical ageing and dementia
  6. Good design

Calderflower Managing Director Lara Calder (pictured right) said the new guidelines are intended to clarify the audience for these developments.

“Often planners and councils don’t necessarily understand the difference between a senior’s housing apartment development and the standard apartment, which is the ADG, the Apartment Design Guide,” she said.

“So, we wanted to bring people’s attention to the fact that these developments are very heavily focused around communities and that they need to have supportive community spaces, club lounges, group meeting rooms, lots of breakout spaces where people can gather and socialize, because that is one of the reasons why people move into these developments, is for the sense of community and belonging and being part of a social group.”

The guidelines also discuss the key changes in the SEPP, such as the additional one-storey FSR bonus or height bonus.

Lara said the bonus should enable retirement living and aged care developers to achieve a greater yield for sites.

“Standard apartments are smaller typically than independent living apartments, because they have to have to meet accessibility requirements. So, they have a lower yield when competing with residential developers,” she explained.

Initial feedback from the industry to the SEPP however has indicated that operators want a greater FSR.

The 2021 guidelines are currently on public display on the Department’s planning portal with targeted consultation to take place before they are put into legislation.

You can read the new guidelines here.