OVER the next 10 years the fastest growing demographic group in Canberra will be people aged over 65, expanding to nearly 15 per cent of the population.
This discerning cohort will be looking for a place to live that meets their needs at prices they can afford.
Regrettably, rather than opening up the potential for diversity and choice, changes to the Territory Plan over recent years have limited the possibilities for development in existing suburbs – reducing the capacity of the property industry to respond to this emerging and critical demand.
While many prefer to stay in their own home as they age, well-located retirement villages can be an option for people looking to “right size” into a new home.
With around 39,000 people aged over 65 currently living in Canberra, the market demand for an increase in retirement living options is significant.
The Government needs to provide more options in village living. Prioritising sites for retirement villages as part of the land release program to identify and reserve land that would best suit community living would be a good start.
Thoughtfully located retirement villages in existing suburbs would offer older Canberrans the opportunity to age in their own community, maintaining friendship networks and staying close to local services. These villages would also be a boon for local centre business and keep our demographic mix vital.
There should be incentives for quality retirement development to counter the barriers created by high land values and the current restrictive planning context.
Without action, older Canberrans will be disadvantaged – and all of our community will suffer as a consequence.
Catherine Carter is ACT executive director of the Property Council of Australia