Caregivers - including family members - will be able to live alongside the retirement village residents they are looking after in a ground-breaking new project to be located south of Sydney.

IRT Group has submitted a development application for the redevelopment of its existing 1970s Towradgi retirement village.

The application proposes the construction of 81 homes, including 25 villas, 24 villa-style apartments and 32 apartments, with a mix of two to three bedrooms.

IRT's proposed Towradgi village

IRT CEO Patrick Reid said the plans deliver industry-leading ageing-in-place housing.

“Elements at IRT Towradgi Beach will be a tailor-made community that meets the changing needs of older Australians so that their new home with us will be their home for life,” Mr Reid said.

“Each villa and apartment has been designed to support ageing in place. 

“For example, bathrooms and kitchens have been fitted out with modern and safe fixtures and fittings, appliances will be installed at easy-to-reach heights and trip hazards have been minimised throughout. 

“Some homes will also have live-in care adaptability with an attached garage that has been specifically designed to be easily converted to carer’s accommodation should the need arise.”

An IRT spokeswoman confirmed family members or contracted care staff would be able to live in the accommodation. 

The carer’s accommodation will have its own front door and access to a bathroom, and would share a kitchen with the main dwelling. 

“This will be the first adaptable live-in carers’ accommodation at any IRT retirement village,” the spokeswoman said.

The IRT carers’ accommodation initiative comes amid research that, in the post-COVID-19 environment, families are keen to live closer together.

At the Towradgi village, IRT is also proposing a street front café and general store which will be open to the public, while greenspace throughout the village is envisioned to encourage monthly markets and space for veggie gardens. 

The resident clubhouse will have a multi-purpose second story for community, medical and allied health services.

As with IRT’s newest retirement village, Henry Brooks Estate at IRT Kanahooka, Elements at IRT Towradgi Beach will be built according to dementia-friendly design which further supports people to age in place.

“The site is designed with a road and pedestrian layout that supports wayfinding,” an IRT spokeswoman said. 

“For example, the exterior colours of the villas will be coloured depending on the location within the village to make it easier to navigate, a deciduous tree selection will indicate the season and there will be conventional street numbering of the houses. 

“An internal design element that is dementia-friendly will be clear sight lines from the bed to toilet in all villas and apartments. 

“Other dementia-friendly design elements will be expanded upon during the detailed design phase yet to come, for example colour contrast between the benchtop and splashback.

IRT indicated in 2019 its intention to redevelop the Towradgi property with a new retirement village and began a comprehensive collaboration process with existing residents, neighbours and other interested community members.

The development application is now subject to assessment by Wollongong City Council.