Dozens of new seniors housing projects are providing a much-needed financial boost for struggling clubs across NSW and Queensland, while at the same time providing new high-quality housing close to existing services.

An analysis by has found that more than 2,000 seniors housing dwellings are being proposed on clubs sites across the two States.

NSW projects

The biggest supply pipeline appears to be in NSW, which has specific town planning incentives to encourage seniors housing projects on club sites.

In NSW, developers are able to apply for a fast-tracked rezoning (known as a site compatibility certificate) to allow a seniors housing project to be proposed on part of a club site, even if this land is zoned for recreation. If this application is successful, the developer then needs to separately apply for development approval to begin construction.

The most well-known existing seniors housing complexes on club sites are located at the Harbord Diggers and Dee Why RSL club sites on Sydney’s northern beaches.

However, a scan of the State’s planning register show there is a massive pipeline of new projects proposed on club sites, which are awaiting either rezoning or construction approval.

This includes projects at the Blacktown Workers’ Sports Club (800 dwellings), Castle Hill RSL  (321 dwellings), Wests Group Mayfield (262 dwellings), Concord RSL (110 dwellings) and Waverley Bowling Club (90 dwellings). Approval for 160 dwellings has been granted at the Penrith Golf Club, with development marketing expected to begin shortly.

The Sydney-based Mounties club group and Newcastle-based Wests club group appear to be particularly active in the seniors housing space.

Seniors housing project proposed at Blacktown Workers Sports Club

Club lobby group ClubsNSW supported the seniors housing trend and the NSW-specific planning incentives.

“In 2014, the McKell Institute released a report entitled Meeting the Shortfall, which found NSW clubs were in a unique position to assist with the provision of essential community services, such as aged care and seniors’ living facilities,” a spokesman for ClubsNSW said.

“The study found that as trusted community hubs, many with surplus property, clubs would be ideal for these sorts of developments which increasingly are needed as the population ages.

“Consequently, clubs are embarking on seniors’ living developments in a bid to diversify their income streams, while at the same time ensuring they remain relevant to their communities."

Queensland projects

The trend towards providing seniors housing on club sites is also very much alive in Queensland, even though specific planning incentives do not appear to be in place.

During March, the Queensland Planning and Environment Court endorsed Brisbane City Council’s approval of a 94 unit development at Tarragindi Bowls Club, proposed by Retire Australia. This project will deliver a new clubhouse, championship size bowls green and community gardens.

Separately, Retire Australia has just begun marketing (including on a new retirement village overlooking the 10th tee at the Burleigh Golf Club at Miami on the Gold Coast.

The project, known as The Verge, will include 145 independent living units and 32 state-of-the-art care apartments, along with a gymnasium, indoor and outdoor yoga areas, salon, café and lush gardens. Some parking spaces will be set aside for golf buggies.

See main picture above: new retirement village at Burleigh Golf Club by Retire Australia

RetireAustralia Acquisition and Development Manager Scott Baker said projects on club sites helped to meet a “critical undersupply of quality seniors housing” while also placed this housing close to existing facilities.

“Co-located retirement communities provide long-term benefits for both residents, the club and the broader community, and careful consideration is given to each site to ensure the existing activities will complement the future retirement village, and vice versa,” Mr Baker said.

“Projects such as The Verge encourage residents to become part of the club community, giving them important social connections and opportunities to lead active lifestyles, and include meeting spaces that are available to the broader community, encouraging interaction and connection with our residents.”

Burleigh Golf Club Manager Ian Cottle said many golf clubs throughout Australia were looking at other revenue streams to ensure their financial viability in years to come.

“Our collaboration with RetireAustralia allows us to move forward on some priority capital expenditure for the course and the clubhouse,” Mr Cottle said.

Retirement living provider Aura is also seeking planning approval for a new retirement living project at Parkwood International Golf Club on the Gold Coast, and has secured planning approval for a separate project at the Toowoomba Golf Club.

While there is a lot of seniors housing activity on club sites in Queensland, a number of developers were upset when Brisbane City Council in 2018 backed down on a plan to allow aged care and retirement projects on sport and recreation land.

Interior of an apartment at the Verge at Burleigh

Mark Skelsey is the News Editor at