Proposed changes to NSW planning controls could force up home prices in new retirement communities, by reducing new dwelling supply at a time when the State is facing a rapidly ageing population, the property industry says.
The Property Council of Australia has lodged a submission in response to the creation of a new Housing State Environmental Planning Policy, which will incorporate and change NSW’s existing senior housing planning controls.
The Property Council says most of the proposed changes will inhibit seniors housing supply, including:
- Requiring seniors housing to be occupied by people 60 and up, compared to 55 at present
- Prohibiting independent living seniors housing from low-density zones
- Stopping the existing pathway which has allowed seniors housing to be proposed on rural land adjoining urban land.
The Property Council also says much-vaunted changes to incentives to build seniors ‘vertical villages’ in existing medium and high density zones were unlikely to encourage or enable developers to feasibly develop seniors housing.
“In its current form, the draft SEPP loses the existing balance that has been achieved between development control and development incentives, with the latter critical to ensure high quality seniors’ stock is continued to be provided for a product that is considerably more expensive to deliver than traditional forms of residential housing,” the submission says.
“Whilst there are some minor improvements in the development controls set out in the draft SEPP, it holistically results in reduced opportunities for stock delivery.”
In a comment to Downsizing.com.au, Retirement Living Council executive director Ben Myers said: “The drafting of this SEPP is an opportunity for the government to put the levers in place to ensure there will be a strong pipeline of supply of purpose-built seniors housing in age-friendly communities. We know more is required to meet current and future demand.”
“Due to the unique pricing structure, retirement communities generally have lower entry costs than similar dwellings in the same area.
“In areas where supply is limited due to planning restrictions prices will inevitably rise, excluding some future residents who cannot afford available options, and others whose needs are not met by existing communities.”
Comment from our CEO
Downsizing CEO Amanda Graham welcomed the Property Council comments, saying: “Due to the long lead times for development approvals and construction, it’s particularly important to maintain consistency in the age threshold requirements for these types of properties, which should remain at age 55 years.”
"Access to affordable and suitable housing stock is a rapidly growing problem for older Australians, which has been exacerbated during COVID with increasing residential property prices.
“Many aged in their 50s are at high risk of losing their employment, and are looking for downsizing property options that stack up for this phase of their life.
“More older workers are now working for as long as they are able to do so, including part time, or working remotely from a retirement village or other type of lifestyle community.
“The government has raised the pension age and many people are already relying on transition to retirement access to their superannuation to stay afloat.
“It just doesn’t make sense to squeeze them even further by raising the eligibility age requirements for these types of property developments which will effectively reduce the availability of suitable housing stock."
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