Ambitious villa project an economic goldmine
RETIREMENT living could become a cornerstone of the shire’s economy, with the senior population expected to swell in coming years.
It comes amid growing calls for Douglas Shire Council to facilitate a proposed multimillion-dollar retirement village in its new planning scheme.
Waks Developments co-director Steve Thomas has been in talks with the council over a proposal to build Douglas Retirement Community, a neighbourhood catering for people aged 50 and over, on land adjacent to the Captain Cook
Highway and Ferrero Road. But the land, about 12ha in total, is zoned as “rural” under the council’s current planning scheme. Before a formal development application can be lodged the land, on the outskirts of Port Douglas, will need to be rezoned as “urban” with permission to cater for retirement living.
However, the planning scheme is currently under review and is expected to be made available for community consultation about mid-year.
After being drafted by the council it is now in the hands of the state government.
Mr Thomas, who has been developing in the Port Douglas region for almost two decades, said this was a “once-inevery-10-years opportunity” to get the project off the ground.
“We now only have a very small window of opportunity to include the site in the appropriate zoning in the new planning scheme and, without it, the retirement community may never go ahead,” he said.
The project comprises up to 160 two and three-bedroom villas, to suit people aged 50 and over who were looking to downsize their homes.
He said the feedback from shire residents about the project had been mostly positive after it was first put to the council in May 2014.
“From an economic point of view it’s another pillar for the shire,” the 63-year-old said.
“If there’s a downturn in tourism or farming there would still be money coming from people in the retirement community.”
Local retiree Maurice Ferrero, 74, welcomed the proposal: “It would be good for anybody who’s not quite at the stage of life where they need care but are looking to downsize from a rural property or farm,” he said.
“The land they are talking about is not currently used for anything — it’s a big vacant block.”
A preliminary plan of the proposed Douglas Retirement Community. INSET: Waks Developments co-director Steve Thomas.
Mossman District Nursing Home Committee member Marj Norris.