Proposed retirement village warrants action

Published Wednesday 3 February 2016

A proposed retirement village with a $60 million value to the Shire during Stage One, was presented to Council in May 2014, but now appears to be caught in bureaucratic red tape.

The 160-villa Douglas Retirement Community is a fully master-planned neighbourhood for the over 50s and active retirees. It is on land located at Ferrero Road on the Captain Cook Highway. Central facilities will include a gymnasium, swimming pool, landscaped gardens and entertaining areas, theatre and café.

The village will be in walking distance to shops, churches, buses and retail facilities and less than five minutes by car or bus to restaurants, health care and other facilities.

According to Steve Thomas from Waks Developments, when the presentation was made to Council they outlined the need for affordable and secure retirement living in the Shire; the social needs and financial benefits; and a layout of the site was provided along with a comprehensive information memorandum.

“The feedback from the councillors was positive with several saying they supported the project.

“The proposed site requires a change of zoning to allow the project to proceed and we requested that the land be zoned urban with a retirement community overlay to ensure the land can only be used for the purposes requested and not for general urban development,” said Thomas.

Thomas said there was an expectation that the new plan would be available for public consultation in the latter part of 2015. However, it is currently with the state government as part of the process and may not be available until mid-2016,” he said.

In promoting the fact that Port Douglas is an attractive destination for those in retirement, Thomas said according to the ABS, by 2056 one in four Australians will be over the age of 65.

How much will the villas cost?

The sales price of the villas cannot be confirmed until the development and building applications have been completed and approved. However, early indications suggest the prices will range from approximately $300,000 to $500,000 depending on the ownership model. It is envisaged that either freehold title or rental options will be available.

When will the villas be available for sale?

Subject to planning processes it is expected the first owners will be onsite within 18 months .

Is the site zoned for a retirement community?

No. The site is currently zoned rural. The site hasn’t been used for farming activity for over 25 years. The council has been requested to include the site in the appropriate zoning in the new town plan as retirement living and associated uses only.

What is the process once the site is rezoned?

When the rezoning occurs a development application will be lodged, which will determine the design and other details in the masterplan. Once that is approved, a building application will be lodged for the construction of the villas and community facilities.

Who is developing the site?

Waks Developments, the developers of Craiglie Business Park. The company is owned by locals who have been undertaking construction in the Shire for over 15 years.

Will there be any additional residential development on the site?

No. The rezoning will only allow for retirement living.

Why is there such a high demand for this retirement community in the Douglas Shire?

The population of Australia over the age of 50 is increasing rapidly. People are healthier, fitter and living longer than ever before, and don’t want to settle for second best when it comes to retirement housing options. The Douglas Retirement Community will be the only master-planned, purpose built community in the region for the over 50s who are able to live independently, and intend to lead an active, busy lifestyle. This may include part-time work, overseas travel, family holidays, entertaining friends and other social and recreational activities, which they want to enjoy in the region, and not be forced to move elsewhere because of lack of retirement housing choice.

What is the economic benefit of the development to the Douglas Shire?

The Douglas Retirement Community will inject up to $60 million into the Shire, and will provide a new source of non-tourism revenue and local staff for part-time and peak tourism periods. Given most residents will have income from pensions and super the local economic contribution will be unaffected by cycles in tourism and farming.

Will there be a choice to own my villa and land outright?

Yes it’s proposed to offer freehold ownership and a rental option.

Why do we need this when Mossman will have a nursing home?

The retirement community will be focused on retirees and active people who want to continue to live independent lives in their own homes close to their families.