The growing popularity of over 55s lifestyle estates in Port Stephens has prompted a review of how future developments will be assessed – and can't come fast enough according to the Tomaree Ratepayers and Residents Association.
The council has begun to develop standards for manufactured home estates to establish clear expectations and satisfy community needs, as part of a statewide rethink on the issue. TRRA planning convenor Nigel Waters said Anna Bay 's rural landscape was already undergoing rapid change.
"There's a cumulative impact when we're talking about 500 new dwellings between Sunrise, Boardwalk and Lattitude with additional impacts on public services," he said. "Obviously there is a need for these type of developments but there should be a dialogue about it especially when it's happening on rural-zoned land a long way from shops and services.
Mr Waters said these developers should be required to pull their weight with adequate contributions to infrastructure like roads, libraries and other community facilties, all freely open to residents of these estates.
"These are residential subdivisions by stealth, they need to pay their share," he said.
Sunrise developer Hometown Australia said there was a genuine need for over 55s accommodation and that residential land lease communities had become a very popular form of housing.
"Possibly the greatest health risk our aging population faces is isolation. Communities such as ours supply a secure, comfortable and stimulating social environment for home owners," Hometown Australia director Kevin Tucker said.
"It is true many of our residents will drive, but they will also utilise the local public transport. There are bus stops right outside our front door.
Obviously there is a need for these type of developments but there should be a dialogue about it especially when it's happening on rural-zoned land a long way from shops and servicesNigel Waters, TRRA
"In addition, our community will provide a community bus that will provide transportation to the Anna Bay and Nelson Bay town centres, the Salamander Bay shopping centre, along with many other local attractions."
Port Stephens Council said the broader community was right to have certain expectations of these developments.
"Council's across NSW are working to provide a clear strategic direction on manufactured home estates (MHEs) and caravan parks in conjunction with the Department of Planning and Environment," the spokesman said.
"In the meantime council is investigating options to be included within the Port Stephens Local Housing Strategy to respond to the current day requirements and expectations of MHEs and Caravan Parks. Council is seeking to provide a strategic direction to inform future development of this style in the LGA to ensure that satisfactory built and community outcomes are achieved."
David and Louise Powers live next door to two of these approved villages, those being Boardwalk and Sunrise. They’re still “waiting for answers” on how Sunrise gained approval, with its slab-on-ground homes being residential-like.
"We’re not opposed to the location because it’s next to us we’re opposed because it doesn’t fit in the rural landscape,” Mrs Powers recently told the Examiner. “We never thought it would be approved.”
Set back from Nelson Bay Road on a battleaxe block developer Ingenia Lifestyle said there had been significant curiosity about Latitude One, on Nelson Bay Road, Anna Bay. It’s contributions started with the construction of a new intersection with turning lanes at the entrance for the village. Latitude One has sold down the first three releases totaling over 82 homes in stages one, two and three. Ingenia was unapologetic about its design direction despite concerns that its development among others was neither in keeping with the rural zoning or consistent with a caravan park.
“Australians have been living in caravan parks for over 50 years and in the same way caravans and cabins have evolved, so has the quality of homes,” the spokesman said.
“There is a definite improvement in quality and style as design trends, materials and technology are utilised. All our homes are relocatable and are constructed to meet and comply with the Residential (Land Lease) Communities Act 2013. We see Latitude One entirely consistent with the zoning.”
Neither did the developer see any issue with location of its village, removed from shops and services like doctors.
“We will provide a community bus for residents [and] have facilities provided in our community centre for visiting physicians so in many cases we will have services come into the community,” the spokesman said. “As such our community is largely self-sufficient.”
The villages tend to be marketed as a “better alternative” to traditional retirement villages, which operate under a deferred management fee on exit, while catering to more-active demographic. Ingenia Lifestyle said it was a popular structure because there was no stamp duty fees; no council rates; no exit fees; no strata fees and “more affordable” with “one simple weekly site fee”.
“Other financial gains include the home being part of your estate as a willable asset and, where eligible, the weekly site fees may be covered by government rent assistance,” the spokesman said.
Hometown Australia director Kevin Tucker said residential land lease estates also had the capacity to improve housing affordabillity more widely.
We will provide a community bus for residents [and] have facilities provided in our community centre for visiting physicians so in many cases we will have services come into the community.Spokesman, Latitude One
"We aim to attract many local people who are downsizing from larger properties which in turn can be freed up for growing families attracted to the area," he said.
He noted that Hometown Australia had agreed to make $1.2 million in contributions under section 94 of the local government act toward roads, cultural facilties and sports fields.
"Our community will provide 5-star facilities such as a large clubhouse, indoor/outdoor pools, a health and wellness centre, library, cinema room, lawn bowls green, sports bar, and tennis courts," Mr Tucker said. "Due to the extensive facilities, it is unlikely there will be undue pressure placed on the local services by our homeowners. Our residents will however utilise shopping, local clubs, and entertainment which is a positive thing for the local economy.”