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Australian housing unprepared for incoming ‘silver tsunami’

Urgent calls for a better housing plan for Australia’s ‘silver tsunami’ are being issued by industry leaders, as the population of those aged over 65 grows at a rate never seen before.

The new Retirement Living Planning Report Card says Governments need to “do a better job” of planning for housing for older Australians (Source: Shutterstock)

The warning is that the “booming demographic” risks fewer and poorer housing options unless state and territory Governments “do a better job” of planning for housing for older Australians, including retirement villages.

These concerns come from the Property Council of Australia who commissioned the Retirement Living Planning Report Card, which was published by Urbis.

The Report Card assesses states and territories on their performance in planning for seniors housing, with South Australia ranked first overall.

It also includes four key recommendations for reform of planning to deliver better outcomes for the housing needs of older Australians:

Increase land availability

Support more commercially viable development

Improve alignment with market needs

Elevate retirement living to state importance in planning schemes

With more than 3.7 million Australians aged 65 and over, Executive Director Retirement Living at the Property Council, Ben Myers, says it is vital that age appropriate housing options exist in all parts of our major cities to meet increased demand.

“The Retirement Living Planning Report Card shows that our states, together with local Governments, can provide a more strategic role in ensuring there is land available for forms of seniors housing, like retirement villages and other independent living communities,” Mr Myers says.

“Issues such as zoning and overly restrictive height controls can inhibit the redevelopment potential of existing communities to ensure the expectations of Australian retirees are met.

“Without changes to planning policy and improved awareness at council level, seniors may find their choices limited, and be more likely to be stuck in homes that reduce their ability to stay independent and health.

“Retirees would benefit greatly from specific seniors housing policies and targets, to promote appropriate development to ensure there are options available for people aged 65 and over.”

Associate Director at Urbis and author of the Report Card, Kylie Newcombe, says when it comes to scoring planning systems, the scores are low overall with no single state standing out as an example.

“We need to switch the mindset from planning as a barrier, to planning as an enabler,” she explains.

“Common hurdles to developing seniors housing are the ongoing competition for land, historic zoning and height restrictions, and a general lack of understanding of the market’s needs by authorities.

“Ideally, there would be a more flexible approach that is tailored to what seniors need and want.”


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