Where will our re­tirees live?

Upper Hutt Leader - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

NI­CHOLAS BOY­ACK/STUFF

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.

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