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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 10 Hansard (24 August) . . Page.. 3996..


MS DUNDAS (continuing):

One submitter pointed out that recent changes to planning laws in the territory are limiting people's ability to be supported in their homes because they are not able to have the changes made to their properties that would make such an option viable. So there may be a need to look more broadly at how our planning policies are impacting on our aged community.

One of the main recommendations that this committee put forward is that there be the establishment of a land bank for the provision of land for aged care accommodation and that the government not just identify sites but start work to ensure that planning processes are working so that people can start building aged care accommodation.

The main criticism levelled at the government related to the way planning processes were applied to different applications or ideas in relation to the provision of aged care. The committee has recommended that the ACT government look at its policies and procedures around the allocation of land for residential aged care and other forms of accommodation for the aged, review the current planning policies and possibly rewrite and streamline them, and work through concerns with the community.

We put forward a case study of what has been happening recently in Belconnen. This is an issue that has been much talked about in the media and that was much talked about in submissions made to us. We have one proposal for aged care development in Belconnen being rejected by the government but a government plan for aged care at a different site at Belconnen progressing quite quickly, even thought there are ongoing concerns about the use of that particular site. I am referring to section 87 on the Lake Ginninderra shoreline.

Through the case study of the Belconnen experience we tried to highlight some of the concerns put to the committee in relation to how planning is done for aged care accommodation. We are not saying yes or no to either of the proposals that have been put forward, but we are saying that it seems a different set of rules is being applied in each instance. So we are concerned that the planning principles are not being consistently applied and that, in fact, the planning principles need to be reworked. The planning principles set down by PALM and still being used by ACTPLA and the ACT government today could be used to rule out almost any development of aged care accommodation. New developments are limited because of the way they are written and presented. So we ask the government to seriously reconsider those planning guidelines.

There is no doubt that the ACT government will need to plan for the demographic change that is occurring now and will accelerate over the next 30 years. We have concerns over the capacity of current planning processes and the flexibility of those processes to adequately meet current and future demand. The committee is concerned that the planning and development application process may be somewhat arbitrary and not sufficiently clear to enable developers to proceed with their projects with certainty.

The committee is concerned that the lack of flexibility in the planning process has resulted in a lack of recognition for different types of aged care accommodation-specifically, retirement villages and independent living options. It is virtually impossible to find a site for aged care accommodation that satisfies the current guidelines, which means that there is always a capacity for the government to reject a proposal because it


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