A retirement living tower - which is expected to become one of the tallest in Australia - has received approval as sky-high seniors housing becomes more popular across the nation.

On Monday 11 May, Stockland was successful in securing an approval for a 29 storey skyscraper including 172 independent seniors living units and a 132 bed residential care facility at Epping in Sydney’s north-west.

The project is located on the site of a local Catholic church and primary school, and will also deliver a new primary school building and church hall and administration building.

The proposal was approved despite a torrid two hour online planning panel meeting, at which local residents complained about the height of the proposal and questioned whether it should contain seniors housing.

These concerns were not accepted by the Sydney Central City Planning Panel, which unanimously approved the project.

“The development has been appropriately designed and will provide acceptable levels of amenity for future residents, students, worshippers and commercial occupants,” the panel’s determination report said.

“The design successfully minimises adverse impacts on the amenity of neighbouring properties while providing effective ventilation and solar access for incoming residents, as well as accessible outdoor spaces and landscaped areas, including deep soil planting.”

An alternative view of the proposed Stockland tower at Epping

At the planning panel meeting, Stockland development manager Alison McDonagh said the retirement living project would benefit from being co-located with a school and child care centre.

“For us the appeal has always been the unique co-generational opportunities this site provides,” Ms McDonagh said.

“There has been a great amount of research undertaken about the benefits of connectivity between seniors and children. 

“We have included a room in the development that can be shared by all users of the site.

“This will allow us to have activities shared among the aged care and retirement residents, as well as school children, the parish and even the wider community. Cooking, craft and Ipad classes are something we are willing to explore further.”

Welcoming the approval, a Stockland spokesperson said: "We’ve worked closely with the council and authorities over the past couple of years on our future plan to create a connected, walkable community for retirees at Epping. We’re pleased to receive this approval and we look forward to working with our other stakeholders on the next steps for this project.”

Shift towards vertical living

In recent years, there has been a strong shift towards vertical seniors living, particularly for new retirement villages.

The Property Council of Australia 2019 retirement living census found that 48 per cent of new villages currently under development are either vertical or a combination of vertical and broadacre/ horizontal, up 18 per cent from 2018 Census figures.

Vertical retirement living allows retirees to enjoy easy access to public transport and vibrant urban centres, along with fantastic views.

Below is a snapshot of vertical living towers underway or recently completed in Australia:

What

Where 

Height

Status

Aveo Carindale

Carindale, Brisbane (Qld)

Up to 10 storeys

First stage complete, entire project complete 2028

Queen Street Village (Gold Coast Hospital site)

Southport, Gold Coast (Qld)

Up to 25 storeys (proposed)

Awaiting planning approval

Aveo Newstead

Newstead, Brisbane (Qld)

19 storeys

Opened in 2018

Aveo Bella Vista

Bella Vista, Sydney (NSW)

Up to 11 storeys

First stage complete, entire project over 5-6 years

Catholic Health Care site

Lewisham, Sydney (NSW) 

12 storeys (proposed)

In early planning

Uniting Epping

Epping, Sydney (NSW)

16 storeys (proposed)

Awaiting planning approval

The Grace Albert Park

Melbourne (Victoria)

18 storeys (tallest in Melbourne)

Construction recently complete

U City Retirement Residences

Adelaide (South Australia)

20 storeys

Opened in 2019

The Stockland Epping project is expected to be pipped for the claim to be the tallest retirement project in Australia by Victoria Towers in Southport in Queensland, which is some 35 storeys high.