Property Council unveils 7-Point Plan to kickstart economic recovery – retirement villages to build aged care, be classified as commercial premises, incentives for developments with sports and recreation clubs

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Following CEO Ken Morrison’s warning last week that housing instability will impact on RADs and village sales, the peak body has revealed a comprehensive plan to stimulate the industry – including some interesting initiatives for retirement living.

You can read the full 13-page Plan here.

The key points for the retirement living sector include:

  • Incentivise and reduce regulation for retirement communities to develop new facilities to provide a seamless transition to aged care
  • Support the creation of a new pipeline of quality retirement living housing through reclassifying retirement living as commercial residential premises for GST purposes, akin to the treatment for off-campus student accommodation, and replicating the Retirement and Aged Care Incentives Scheme initiated by Brisbane City Council. “Additionally, council rates and utilities costs for retirement villages should be reduced in line with the individual seniors discount that applies in the community and in recompense for operators providing the equivalent of council services,” the Plan states.
  • Remove disincentives to right size for older Australians by enabling full rate age pensioners aged 75 years or older and who own their own homes, to quarantine a portion of their surplus sale proceeds from the age pension assets test (the Property Council’s submission to the Retirement Income Review in February this years suggested an amount between $100,000 and $200,000)

The Plan also pushed for fast track approvals for “shovel-ready” projects including retirement living.

The Plan appears to be advocating for a shift towards offering aged care in retirement villages – assisted living, serviced apartments and co-located facilities.

We asked the Property Council if they see assisted living as the future for retirement villages.

They said they see “customer focus” as the future.

“Each village will determine their individual future based on what their customers require,” they stated.

Regular readers of The Weekly SOURCE will recall the Brisbane City Council’s incentives – introduced in 2016 and leading to a doubling of the retirement village and aged care developments in the city before they were scrapped in 2018.

The measures included cutting infrastructure charges, streamlining assessments, allowing extra height in medium- and high-density areas and promoting developments with sport and recreation clubs.

The Property Council tells us that they do see this as a potential area of growth for operators.

“There are obvious benefits associated with pairing retirement living with sports and recreation clubs,” they said.

The Plan urges Governments to search out and accelerate projects that will stimulate more investment and growth.

“One key lesson from the GFC was that – while government stimulus projects were very welcome – they did not ‘switch on’ the job creating machine of the non-government construction sector,” it concludes.

Will Governments be swayed that housing – and retirement living – will save us from the economic fallout of the pandemic?

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