Port Stephens Council has paved the way for Ingenia Lifestyle to add a further 170 homes at its Latitude One over-55s village, potentially increasing the number of homes to 440 and the number of residents to more than 600.
Port councillors agreed at the November 26 meeting to adopt a land rezoning on Nelson Bay Road at Anna Bay, and forward the planning proposal to be assessed (Gateway determination) by the NSW planning department.
By adopting the planning proposal, the council has effectively "regularised the approved existing use on the part of the site where an approved caravan park is located".
This prompted Cr John Nell to query the development of manufactured homes on a "caravan park" site and operating as a seniors living resort.
The councillor was assured that the current $100 million development comprising 270 homes set on 29.2 hectares was within the zoning guidelines.
Port Stephens is quickly earning the mantle of the retirement capital of NSW with an ever increasing number of resort-style seniors living - also known as Over-55s or retirement villages. There are at least 20 such villages in Port Stephens catering for an estimated 5,000 residents, predominantly retirees.
A spokesperson from the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment said they were well aware that manufactured homes were increasingly taking on the appearance of typical residential dwellings and were being built to a higher standard than they were in the past.
"The department is also aware that manufactured homes are increasing in size and cost. For example, in Latitude One, a 3-bedroom manufactured home is currently for sale at $600,000," the spokesperson said.
"The trend towards larger and more expensive manufactured homes is likely to decrease the possibility that these homes will be relocated in the future. But in terms of complying with the definitions in the Local Government Act, almost any single-storey building is 'moveable'.
"The terms manufactured home means a self-contained dwelling that comprises one or more major sections, is not a motor vehicle or trailer and includes any associated structures that form part of the dwelling."
The planning department spokesperson said that State Environment Planning Policy (SEPP) 36 covering manufactured home estates makes them allowed on any land on which caravan parks are permissible.
Under the EP&A Act, councils are responsible for assessing and determining development applications for caravan parks and MHEs.