Plans shift ahead for aged care facility in Wattle Grove

AFTER more than a decade, plans to develop an integrated aged care facility in Wattle Grove are moving forward.

WA Planning Minister Rita Saffioti confirmed she met the Shire of Kalamunda to proceed the proposal.

Since 2004, landowner and aged care developer Ross Leighton has tried to amend the zoning of his Gavour Road property to allow for the construction of an aged care facility, currently a prohibited land use under the Shire’s local planning scheme.

The Shire resolved in 2010 to amend the planning scheme to rezone the land, but former Planning Minister John Day rejected the amendment two years later despite the WA Planning Commission recommending approval.

In 2014, the WA Supreme Court dismissed an application by Mr Leighton to quash the decision.

Ms Saffioti said she understood the proposal had created significant community debate.

“I’ve asked the Shire to look at modifications and I’m waiting for those to come back,” she said.

“The planning changes will include provisions to ensure the quality of future facilities and limit the number of independent living units that may be developed on site, prior to the construction of a nursing home.

“There are also conditions to ensure that suitable effluent disposal is provided on the site.”

Ms Saffioti said she considered public submissions prior to supporting the amendment.

“Once the modifications have been made by the Shire, the amendment will be returned for my approval,” she said.

Mr Leighton said the decision was a win for common sense.

“This is the only project in the Shire that is shovel ready and it is the only one that has been so for eight years,” he said.

“Full credit has to go to Kalamunda MLA Matthew Hughes who campaigned on aged care and has followed through with it, as well as Rita Saffioti for expediting the matter.

“We’re re-looking at the project and increasing the number of beds to 140, especially given the prevalence of dementia has increased since we first drafted plans nine years ago.”

Lesmurdie aged care advocate Iris Jones said the decision had broken the drought.

“According to official figures we need 435 beds by 2021. The question is where are they going to come from?” she said.