April 11, 2010

AUSTRALIA: High-rise for the elderly, with ocean views

. SYDNEY, NSW / The Sydney Morning Herald / New South Wales / April 12, 2010 By Kelsey Munro BRONTE could have its first multi-storey tower since the 1960s after Bronte RSL decided to sell its site to a developer planning aged-care apartments. Although the Macpherson Street site on a hill overlooking Bronte is constrained by a three-storey height limit, the developer has confirmed it proposes to build higher. Under a deal yet to be revealed to members, the RSL agreed to sell the 2000-square-metre site to Greengate Property Group to build assisted-living apartments, shops and a smaller club. Greengate's director, Matthew Fisher, ruled out building as high as the suburb's sole high-rise, the eight-storey former Bronte Inn apartment block next door, which has sweeping ocean views. But he would not say how high he hoped to build, stressing that plans were at a preliminary stage. Special planning provisions apply to aged-care living, allowing for denser development and different height restrictions to those in council plans. The Bronte sub-branch members voted unanimously to give Greengate the tender after rejecting other proposals, including one from Harris Farm Markets to build a supermarket and apartments within the existing height of the building. Simon Paterson, the secretary-treasurer of the Bronte sub-branch, said Greengate's proposal was chosen because of a perceived community need and the expectation that the approval process would be quicker for an aged-care development. ''We know there's a big shortage of aged care in the area and a lot of people in the RSL movement are of that age when they're thinking of that,'' he said. ''Secondly was the sense it would be easier for the developer to get it through the council so the job can just get done and give us our club back.'' The approval process for the development is likely to be handled under the state's new joint regional planning panel, bypassing Waverley Council. For the past decade, special planning provisions have applied to new aged-care facilities. ''It is safe to say you could get a more dense development approved with senior living facilities than you would ordinarily get under a [council's] local environment plan,'' said a planning lawyer, Anthony Whealy, a partner at Gadens Lawyers. ''But it's not carte blanche; it's still hard to get them approved.'' The Bronte RSL reported running at a loss in 2008. [rc] Copyright © 2010. Fairfax Digital