SENIORS want a greater choice of accessible accommodation and recreation within their own neighbourhoods rather than new specialist developments.
University of the Sunshine Coast researchers worked with over-55s on the Sunshine Coast and in Brisbane to determine their urban design preferences and create a guide for authorities and developers showing how best to apply these to age-friendly “infill” development, or development of small sites within communities.
Co-author Dr Claudia Baldwin said infill development occurred within established urban areas on sites which had previously been vacant or used for other purposes. If properly planned and not conducted in a piecemeal manner, it could be one key to creating neighbourhoods where people could age safely and happily.
Seniors working with university planners identified issues including the importance of multi-generational communities where they could move with ease along evenly graded, well-maintained and shaded walkways, where shops and services were close and accessible, and where they had both public and private outdoor spaces.
They spoke of the need for single level housing with through ventilation, natural sunlight, and solar and rainwater harvesting systems to make homes cost-efficient.
Dr Baldwin said seniors on the coast and in the city developed an ideal of “ageing in neighbourhood” where consistent themes were choice, independence, integration and dignity.
“An attachment to locality or a community that is familiar is important to older people as age increases,” she said. “The advantage of this model is that these typologies could be developed in a suburb over time, overlayed with home care and support services that already exist.
“Ageing in neighbourhood implies that there is likely to be a shift in the way providers select sites and deliver services in the future, focusing on existing communities with services and infrastructure in place.
Planners, developers and care providers should take heed because as seniors become more aware of the range of possibilities, their expectation is that their voiced needs will be addressed.”
Dr Baldwin, PhD student Caroline Osborne, and Deicke Richards architects associate director Phil Smith have published the research in a book, Infill Development for Older Australians in South East Queensland.
“The book illustrates the preferences of older people through their own photos and words,” Dr Baldwin said. “It is intended to be used by developers, non-profit care providers, planners, builders and policy-makers as a guide to how to meet the challenge of providing liveable safe spaces for older people in a densifying community.”
• It is available online at www.usc.edu.au/seniorliving
RETIREMENT village residents and operators in Queensland will be asked to have their say in a new State Government review of the Retirement Villages Act set to be completed by November. The review follows last year’s discussion paper, under the previous government, on retirement village closures around the state. That document sought input on how best to protect village residents while keeping the industry attractive for village owners. Council on the Ageing Queensland was among organisations to call for a broader review, including consideration of whether to harmonise retirement village regulations across the states and territories. The new Transport, Housing and Local Government Committee review will consider whether the Retirement Villages Act includes unnecessary restrictions and whether it provides residents with certainty in relation to their rights. It will also look at whether the act provides adequate certainty, accountability and transparency for residents in relation to their financial obligations, whether operators should develop best practice standards or comply with mandatory accreditation standards, and dispute resolution options. The committee will report to Parliament by November 30.
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