Am­bi­tious villa pro­ject an eco­nomic gold­mine

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - Hay­den Smith

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.

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