Imagine being able to look out to an 85 hectare green oasis, featuring an abundance of open space, walking trails and waterways, and yet live just minutes from Sydney’s second largest CBD and Western Sydney’s principal referral hospital.
This is the scenario which awaits future residents at Uniting Westmead, a newly-built retirement living project constructed on the western edge of Parramatta Park.
Downsizing.com.au enjoyed a tour of Uniting Westmead, ahead of the campus accepting its first residents. A limited number of apartments are still available for sale.
Entrance and ground-floor areas
The first thing you’ll find when walking into Uniting Westmead’s Caroline St entrance is the ground-floor cafe, which is open to both the project’s residents and any members of the public.
This is part of Uniting’s philosophy to make its projects integrate with, rather than be separated from, the broader community.
The cafe has both indoor and outdoor seating and has been deliberately orientated to the north so it catches the sun.
Nearby, you’ll find a 216 sq/m community lounge set aside for retirement living residents. The lounge has the ability to be partitioned into three discrete areas, allowing for residents to hold private functions such as birthdays, lunches or meetings.
On the ground floor, you’ll also find a hair salon, communal kitchen, outdoor BBQ area, three health and wellness professional consulting rooms and a seniors’ gym.
This is the seventh seniors’ gym to be opened by Uniting and, like the cafe, it will be open to the general public. It’s specifically designed for people over the age of 60.
The Westmead gym is a generous 183 sq/m in size and divided into two sections. One section includes smart technology exercise equipment which has been imported from Europe and the second section is an open area which can be used for classes and activities.
It’s clear that some thought has been given to the design of ground-floor communal areas.
According to interior design firm Marchese Partners, the green, blue and sandstone colours seen through the common areas are inspired by Parramatta Park which sits to the east, Parramatta River which flows to the east and north and the local area's historical architecture.
The Uniting Westmead project has 70 retirement village apartments, containing either one, two or three bedrooms (some also have study areas).
The apartments are available for independent or assisted living and range in price from $565,000 to $920,000 (a deferred management fee applies).
These apartments are positioned on the eastern, or Parramatta Park, side of the development project. In fact, around 18 of the apartments look over the park itself, with some higher level apartments enjoying views to the Parramatta CBD and even the Sydney CBD skyline.
Due to the apartments’ oversized windows and outdoor areas, future occupants of the parkside apartments will feel as though they will almost be able to reach out and touch a wall of green.
This in turn creates a surprising sense of peace and calm, which belies the energy and activity around ten minutes’ away at Westmead Hospital and the Parramatta CBD.
The project’s apartments feature all the stylish and modern fixtures and fittings you expect in a newly-built project, while also containing subtle if not hidden features that help people to age-in-place. These features include level flooring, generous doorways and corridors, powerpoints set above ground level and trip-free bathrooms.
All apartments (park view or not) also have their own balconies, with three featuring extraordinary large balcony terraces of up to 128 sq/m (that’s half the size of a tennis court!)
Residents in the retirement living apartments will be able to access assisted living services including personal care, medication administration, laundry/cleaning and lunch and dinner in the communal dining room.
In addition, a new 114-bed dedicated residential aged care facility is located at the western wing of the project. The presence of this facility will allow retirement living residents to age-in-place as their care needs increase, including allowing one partner to move into care while the other partner stays nearby in an apartment.
Child care centre
One unique feature about Uniting Westmead is that the project is home to a child care centre. This is believed to be the first purpose-built facility of its type in a new retirement village.
Like the cafe, and the seniors’ gym, the 75-place child care centre will be open to the public and is due to open early next year.
The child care centre will be operated by Uniting and help to deliver the now-acknowledged physical and mental health benefits involved in bringing different generations together. It is expected that the project’s residents, and the child care littlies, will come together from time to time for activities.
The child care centre also helps re-affirm that the Uniting Westmead project is not just catering for ‘retired people’ - this is a place where people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities can come, mingle and enjoy.
First residents have moved in
The first residents have begun to move into Uniting Westmead.
Barbara and Warwick, for instance, moved into the project in November so they could enjoy Uniting Westmead’s parkside location and access to Westmead Hospital.
They are also looking forward to using the nearby light rail line, which is expected to be in place by 2023 and link Westmead to the Parramatta CBD and Carlingford.
“As we get older, we don’t want to worry about changing tap washers or light bulbs or anything like that, and (want to live) where there is a community of people we can mix with,” Warwick said. “We also didn’t want to be too far from hospitals, and close to the family. We’ve done all our research and as far as we were concerned Uniting ticked all the boxes for us.”
Barbara added: “The location is perfect, it is across the road from Parramatta Park, which we are very familiar with. Plus with all the transport, and Warwick’s cardiologist is up the road, it is almost like it was put there for us.”
We’ve done all our research and as far as we were concerned Uniting ticked all the boxes for us" - new Uniting Westmead resident Warwick
See Warwick and Barbara talk about their move to Uniting Westmead below:
For decades, the Sydney suburb of Westmead has been best known as the place where people go to seek medical help, thanks to the daily media mentions of the suburb’s hospital.
The Uniting Westmead project is helping to re-cast the image of Westmead by being the first to fully take advantage of its significant and previously under-utilised natural features, along with its unsurpassed and growing social and transport infrastructure.
Despite being located in the middle of busy Western Sydney, one thought that keeps re-emerging during a tour of the project is its surprising sense of space.
Uniting Westmead has generous communal areas, including plenty of room set aside for the gym, community lounge and cafe, while the apartments feature spacious living and bedroom areas and some have large over-sized terraces.