Where will our retirees live?
More retirees are moving further away from their families as the squeeze is put on retirement village accommodation.
A ‘‘slow moving iceberg’’ of retirees set to hit the country in 25 years, could leave a shortfall of such homes in the Wellington region.
The Retirement Village Association predicts the amount of people aged 75 and over in the region will more than double by the year 2043, to 78,400.
Nationally, the figure will increase from 306,730 to an estimated 783,600.
Those involved in the industry say Wellington needs a lot more retirement villages if it is to cope with the increase in demand.They also want more flexible planning rules around building villages to meet the future population explosion of over 75s.
Summerset chief executive Julian Cook said meeting the demand in Wellington was a challenge. ‘‘There are not enough being built right now and I think generally, unlike other areas of New Zealand, there is quite a long-term potential shortfall.’’
Ryman’s David King believed there was a lack of understanding about how quickly our popu- lation was aging. ‘‘There is a population explosion coming ... it is like a slow-moving iceberg coming to get you.’’
At an open day for a potential new village planned for Karori a lot of people asked ‘‘how fast can you build it’’, King said.
In 2014 Ryman’s then managing director Simon Challis said research showed there was an urgent need for 1000 extra beds in the Hutt Valley. The company built a large retirement facility in Petone, but demand remains high.
Summerset has been trying to build a $150 million village in the Lower Hutt suburb of Boulcott since 2013. Although it is still in the resource consent stage, it has a waiting list of 350.
Cook said that those on the list were mostly aged in their late 70s, or older, and wanted to downsize.
Many residents in their homes in Wellington, Upper Hutt and Aotea were from Lower Hutt. That they were prepared to move away from friends and family, showed how desperate they were, he said.
A spokesman for Minister of Seniors Tracey Martin said the minister was ‘‘absolutely’’ aware of the rapidly increasing number of over 75s.
She was developing a positive ageing strategy that would look at a range of issues facing the elderly. It would include retirement villages and what the Government could do to ensure older New Zealanders had appropriate accommodation.
Retirement Village Association executive director John Collyns said providing facilities was an on-going challenge.
In Wellington city it revolved around finding flat land that could be built on at an affordable cost.
The association asked Wellington City Council to change the District Plan to make building retirement homes easier, especially in residential zones.
Wellington city urban development manager Cr Andy Foster said he expected changes making it easier to build retirement villages in existing residential areas to be looked at.
Hutt City general manager for city transformation Kim Kelly said the council was ‘‘committed’’ to providing a wide range of housing, including retirement villages.
A proposed plan change would ‘‘simplify’’ the resource consent process by making villages a discretionary activity in general and medium-density residential zones.
The council’s Urban Growth Strategy states there is an ‘‘unmet demand for between five to 10 retirement villages’’ which equates to a shortfall of about 1000 retirement village units in Lower Hutt.
The Retirement Villages Association said 814 retirement village units were planned across the Wellington region. Some, like the Summerset facility in Boulcott, were still many years from being built.
Christine and Ralph Pahl are delighted with their new life in a Petone retirement village. Wellington needs more retirement villages due to a looming population explosion of over 75s.