Two new retirement living high-rise developments have been approved in Sydney, as new research shows that downsizers are more likely to want to move into high density apartments compared to younger people.

In early September, Catholic Healthcare announced that it had received planning approval to build a $170 million new seniors’ living village with 117 retirement living units and 144 residential aged care beds at Lewisham in Sydney’s inner-west.

Artist's impression of the approved Lewisham project

The project will redevelop an existing aged care hostel, with buildings ranging in height from five to nine storeys and construction scheduled to commence in 2022. 

Meanwhile, Uniting has received planning approval to construct a $93 million, 16 storey mixed use seniors living tower at Epping in Sydney’s north-west.

The tower includes 14 assisted living apartments, 20 care apartments, a 60-bed residential aged care facility and 96 independent seniors living units.

Downsizing.com.au has previously reported that Uniting’s tower will seek to beat the scourge of loneliness by bringing residents and their friends and families together in retail and communal landscaped areas, including elevated ‘skygardens’.

In May, Downsizing.com.au reported that Stockland had been successful in securing an approval for a 29 storey skyscraper - also in Epping - including 172 independent seniors living units and a 132 bed residential care facility.

High-rise retirement living a growing trend

Research by planning consultancy Urbis in mid-2020 found that - despite common misconceptions - Australians over the age of 65 were actually very happy to live in medium and high density housing.

Unpublished data from the Urbis Home Purchaser Sentiment survey showed that 15 per cent of 65+Sydney retirees are interested in moving into mid to high rise apartment buildings, compared to 4 per cent of 45-64 year old residents. 

According to Kylie Newcombe, Urbis’ Associate Director of Economics and Market Research, the figures show the need for developers to more clearly target downsizers and seniors in their building design and marketing approach.

“The results are somewhat surprising since (towers for seniors) is not a broadly occurring dynamic outside the quality boutique projects targeted to the affluent Sydney retiree,” Ms Newcombe said.

“It does suggest there is an opportunity for residential developers to think about this segment, however requires a shift to thinking about owner occupiers as the occupiers and not the common utilitarian approach to meeting investor needs. 

Ms Newcombe said, due to the high cost of land, vertical retirement living or downsizing-friendly developments were going to be an ongoing trend in major cities and urban areas.

“In some locations, it’s going to be the only option,” Ms Newcombe said. “It’s not going to be possible for a developer to find a site in the inner or middle ring suburbs of Sydney and develop a new low-rise retirement village.

“For retirement living, the only way is up if you are talking about metropolitan areas.”

An artist's impression of the Uniting Epping project