Australia will face a seniors’ housing crisis without “urgent change” to state and local planning systems to enable the development of more retirement villages, according to new research commissioned by the Property Council of Australia.

The report warns of a looming shortfall in retirement housing in the face of an over 65s population that is expected to double in the next ten years.

The report’s authors warn that a shortage of retirement living places will mean taxpayers have to foot the bill for much higher aged care costs.

Currently, retirement villages generate $2.16 billion of budget savings annually.

The research by RPS recommends a suite of actions including setting retirement living housing targets, fast-tracked approvals and making retirement living a permissible development in all residential zones.

Without such changes, investment in new retirement villages will stagnate, leaving older Australians with fewer housing options that support healthy ageing and independent living.

“The rapid increase in the number of older Australians needs to be matched by an increased determination by politicians and town planners to support the development of more seniors housing,” said Mary Wood, Executive Director – Retirement Living.

“Purpose-built homes in retirement communities that are well located and expressly designed to support older Australians to be happy, independent and socially engaged is an important goal – but not one that our planning systems are well placed to achieve.

“By 2025, the demand for retirement living accommodation for people aged over 65 years is expected to double. But at the current rate of development, there simply will not be enough supply of retirement communities to meet demand.

“Land use policy is the single most important lever that governments have to support the development of more retirement villages where they are needed.”

The report contains a suite of recommendations for state and local governments, including:

  • Policies that incentivise the integration of villages with the general community;
  • Development yield improvements including car parking flexibility, landscape area reductions and lower open space infrastructure charges; and
  • Rate rebates for retirement village dwellings.

“The report shows that while Queensland has a higher level of effective policy than other states and territories, a more coordinated approach across levels of government towards the development of retirement villages is vital,” says Chris Mountford, Queensland Executive Director of the Property Council of Australia.

“With planning reform already a key agenda item of the State Government, now is the time to act.

“In South East Queensland we have seen limited opportunities for new retirement villages as they compete for land against standard residential developments.

“The report outlines clear actions to increase the supply of retirement dwellings in Queensland. These include supporting the development of retirement villages in a wider range of planning zones, faster and easier assessment of applications, incentives for development, and setting dwelling targets.

“A first step would be for councils to adopt a fair value infrastructure charge for retirement villages in Queensland.

To read the full report, click here