Wanneroo Council blocks rezoning request for proposed retirement complex

Stock image.
Stock image.

WANNEROO Council has refused to initiate a rezoning amendment that could allow for development of a retirement complex near the townsite.

The proposed amendment related to four adjoining blocks on Dundebar Road and Belgrade Road, which owners hoped to sell to an aged care provider that planned to build a retirement complex on the 8ha site.

During a confidential session, the council noted that the City’s planning and sustainability director had not reached an agreement with the applicants and decided it did not support their voluntary contribution offer.

It refused to initiate the amendment 163 to District Planning Scheme 2, saying the proposed additional uses were considered urban and inconsistent with the urban deferred zoning in the area.

Mayor Tracey Roberts read out the resolution, which said the proposal was “premature” and “would prejudice the effective undertaking of the planning process to enable development to occur in an orderly and proper manner”.

It said the City was particularly concerned about the risk of not having an agreement in place regarding the developer contributions.

The Times understands the vote was closely split between 13 elected members, with a simple majority passing the motion to reject the offer.

Resident Kate Coughlan, who owns one of the blocks, said the decision was disappointing but not surprising following negotiations.

“The landowners and aged care providers met on numerous occasions with the City’s planning officers,” she said.

Mrs Coughlan said the City had presented its estimate of what they considered an acceptable developer contribution during initial meetings, based on other local developments.

However, she felt it was “from the higher end of the contribution scale in Wanneroo, in areas quite unlike the subject land”.

She said it did not appear to take into consideration the current real estate market or that the proposed use of the land was for an aged care facility and retirement units.

The Wanneroo resident said State Planning Policy guidelines allowed them to make a voluntary contribution “in the absence of a developer contribution plan”.

“We based the amount we offered as a voluntary contribution, using a 10 per cent of land value guide,” she said.

“The City’s estimated contribution figure works out to be greater than 25 per cent of the land value – it means that to develop four 2ha blocks, more than one of the blocks becomes forfeit to the City as a developer contribution.”

The four properties total 8ha.

Mrs Coughlan said while it was a close decision, it was disappointing not enough councillors supported the offer.

“The development of the proposed aged care and seniors living precinct will provide a significant community asset for the City for the next 40 years,” she said.

The proposal was expected to accommodate more than 400 people, as well as providing a home care service to 100 more, and employ 200 to 300 staff.

Mrs Coughlan said the City would need an extra 817 residential aged care beds by 2021, and 1575 by 2026, according to the WA Tomorrow Population Projections by the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage in 2015 and the Commonwealth Department of Health’s Aged Care Planning Ratio.

“This equates to eight to 15 new facilities required over the next three to eight years in the City,” she said.

Mrs Coughlan said without provision of aged care facilities, seniors would have to downsize to other areas, moving away from family, friends and services they were used to in Wanneroo.

“Most people who live in an area for a considerable length of time would like to ‘downsize’ or enter a senior’s village in the neighbourhood where they’ve spent most of their lives,” she said.