AIDA is enthusiastic about the prospect of restarting council’s project to provide an older persons’ housing development at 2 Fraser Drive in Aireys Inlet. The local community believes there is a real need for increased opportunities for ageing local residents to remain living in their community, particularly in such a convenient and accessible location as Fraser Drive. We see the need for the original vision for this land to be realised at last. Aged people are outstripping the rest of the local population at a rapid rate. Based on council’s demographic data on its website, at the 2006 census 24 per cent of the permanent population of Aireys Inlet, Lorne and Deans Marsh was aged sixty years and over. This age cohort is projected to increase as a proportion of the total local population to 29 per cent by 2021 and to 32 per cent by 2031.This means that 71 per cent of the overall growth in local population between the years 2006 and 2031 is projected to be aged sixty years or over, while only 29 per cent of this growth will be in the birth to fifty- nine years age bracket.
The idea of establishing older persons’ housing on the vacant land in Fraser Drive goes back to the 1980s, when the site was purchased by the Barrabool Shire which designated it to be ‘for the purposes of providing housing units for the aged’. The land was sold to the council by a local resident who had had the same future use in mind. Soon after its purchase the shire negotiated a federal government grant for the construction of four social housing units, originally for the elderly, to be situated on part of the site, on the security of a State Government Office of Housing mortgage over the land they were to be built on. In 2000 AIDA received a proposal from one of our older members, a long-standing Aireys Inlet resident, that as no further development of social housing was planned at Fraser Drive, AIDA should revisit, on behalf of the community, the original purpose for the property as older persons’ housing. AIDA was advised by community members that an increasing number of older residents were now living alone in family homes which were becoming either too big to manage or were now too far from shops and services for people with reducing mobility. It made sense to investigate whether, for those who wished to downsize to remain living in Aireys Inlet, part of their existing equity could be used to fund an older persons’ housing development for that purpose, on the balance of the land at Fraser Drive.
AIDA took this proposal to the shire council, which in May 2002 enthusiastically endorsed the idea and funded AIDA to carry out a professional feasibility study. AIDA also saw this initiative as an opportunity to establish housing that demonstrated exemplary local character and employed environmentally friendly design principals. This proposal was developed further over the 2003–04 period, leading to a detailed design and financial proposal for the construction of up to twenty privately owned self-contained older persons’ units on the site, plus a community facility, in addition to the existing social housing units.A number of options were examined, including a preferred alternative plan which redeveloped the four social houses as new buildings designed to modern standards, and fitting better within the overall development. Both proposals were to be completely self-funding, and the project was expected to return a significant surplus to council.
Council endorsed the scheme and, in appointing AIDA as its facilitator to implement it, set the following criteria for the occupants of the older persons’ units:
- above sixty years of age and Aireys Inlet district residents, or if no one fits these criteria,
- a shire resident, or if no one fits these criteria,
- family of shire residents.
These criteria were to be included in a Section 173 agreement or covenant on the housing units. Council also resolved to allocate any financial surplus from the project to the Aireys Inlet district.
The 2003 schemes all included a notional community house and the possibility of a community garden on an adjacent vacant site, but the exact needs for community facilities were not fully established at the stage the project was prevented from proceeding.
Where to from here?
From our discussions with the shire during 2011–12, AIDA understands there may be a new way forward. The only practical way available to council to implement any housing development on the Fraser Drive site now may be for the Office of Housing to relinquish its rights under its mortgage, and for the ownership of the project to pass to a registered housing association.
We understand from these meetings that the approach now favoured is for such a registered housing association to redevelop the site with twelve privately owned older persons’ houses, plus four new replacement social houses. We think that this sounds like a good way forward, so long as the community’s objectives can be fully reflected in a process which leads to a development that meets local needs and expectations.
We would be disturbed, though, if council or the successful registered housing association or both were to propose a housing development at Fraser Drive which changed the original site and project objectives from older persons’ housing to something different. Subsequent discussion documents have referred to the development achieving ‘a mix of tenants/owners/income levels/ages’ and also providing for the inclusion of housing for the local work force, as identified as a need, particularly in Lorne, where land use and values have seriously reduced the availability of affordable housing.
AIDA believes that it would be a mistake if council were to decide to dilute the original reason for the acquisition of 2 Fraser Drive, and the concept of housing for older local people to enable them to continue living in their own community.
The way forward –
AIDA sees this project as a great opportunity for the local community and would be happy to be involved in community consultation and the next stages in the development of the housing at 2 Fraser Drive.
There was, and still is, strong community interest and support for the idea of the proposed older persons’ housing development – AIDA continues to field questions from its members about the progress of the project – and its solution to the challenge of supporting ageing in place at no cost to government or council.
Please let AIDA know your ideas on an older persons’ housing project for Aireys Inlet and district.
Readers may email their comments and suggestions by going to the ‘Contact us’ tab on the AIDA website: