Aged care alternatives

"No other suitable locations for aged care in the Shire" is often used as an excuse for why the reserve on Wilkins Road needs to be bulldozed and developed. But this reserve should never have been proposed for development, and creating this "wedge" between those wishing to see more aged care facilities built in the Shire and those who want to preserve the natural environment that makes the Kalamunda hills a nice area to live.

The failure for planning for aged care facilities in the Shire of Kalamunda should be addressed in a strategic and holistic fashion, with consideration of all the options. The current approach of selecting an inappropriate site and sacrificing a bushland reserve is inadequate.

What's worse, the concept plan in the Development proposal page shows that most of the reserve will be bulldozed for lifestyle/retirement village type of housing and facilities (with boat and caravan parking!). The aged care building only occupies a small fraction of the land.

Contrary to the claims otherwise, there are alternative locations and solutions for aged care.

A targeted approach to aged care

Different approaches to the provision of aged care should also be considered. On of the goals of the Shire of Kalamunda’s Local Housing Strategy is to “improve the choice in housing for older people by increasing the number of smaller homes and unit dwellings”. In combination with this approach, some nearby small blocks of land could be used for specific aged care facilities. Surely Perth is not the only city in the world seeking to care for the elderly in areas where there are limits to the availability of large tracts of land.

We should look at the solutions that other communities come up with, and see if they can be replicated here. For example, could extra support services could be provided in the home? Could clusters of houses be identified as an aged care area and supported accordingly by a smaller specific-purpose building nearby ? The plans for Wilkins Rd show the majority of the site being occupied by the ‘smaller homes and unit dwellings’. The Local Housing Strategy seeks to facilitate this on existing housing blocks, so why should a reserve be cleared for more of the same?

Potential alternative locations - small sites

It is important to look at how the Shire can meet the existing community demand for aged care. The answer could be in small, targeted facilities. To pick an example from elsewhere in Perth, Mercy Place Lathlain is a residential care facility with 65 beds, on a block size that would not be more than 3000 m2 (0.3 Ha). This is only 2 to 3 “hills sized” blocks of residential land. These are the sorts of facilities that the Shire should be encouraging. They would be built much more quickly than that proposed for Wilkins Road, and would meet what is needed in the Shire: aged care beds.

The Kalamunda Hospital has also been suggested as being able to meet the short-term demand for aged care.

Potential alternative locations - large sites

Recent work by the Kalamunda Aged Care Committee has resulted in a report on Residential Aged Care options in the Kalamunda Shire. It mainly focuses on larger potential sites for "integrated aged care" facilities. The report is available from this page on Ken Wyatt's website (scroll down the page to find the download link):

Residential Aged Care Options in the Shire of Kalamunda

Prior to this report, the Shire of Kalamunda had nominated various locations alternative to the proposed location for an integrated aged care facility in the hills area. Examples of such alternative locations are as follows (not all the locations above may be suitable, including due to environmental losses):

  • An aged care facility is planned by Hall & Prior for a site in High Wycombe (‘Mason Gardens’) (PDF link). Apparently this facility has had planning approval for a number of years.
  • At the Special Council Meeting on 9 September 2013, the Shire carried a motion to “Request for Scheme Amendment to rezone Location 500 (32) Gavour Road, Wattle Grove from Special Rural to Special Use (Residential Aged Care)”.
  • At the Ordinary Council Meeting on 22 April 2013, the council resolved to “...pursue with the state government the availability of the following sites for Aged Care development within the Shire:
    • The Agricultural Department site in Forrestfield – The old speedway portion of Pioneer Park
    • The old Wattle Grove Primary School [there is also large areas of cleared land alongside]
    • The Department of Housing land adjacent to Dixon Road in Kalamunda [also an area of bushland reserve which should not be destroyed!]
    • Portion of the land on the south east corner of the intersection of Canning Road and Pomeroy Road.
    • The reserve at 40 Alpine Road in Kalamunda [again another reserve].
    • These sites (with the exception of 40 Alpine Road) were also presented as possibilities by Andrew Fowler Tutt (Shire of Kalamunda Planning Department) to the Lesmurdie & Districts Community Association (Word docx link).
  • In the draft Local Housing Strategy for the Shire of Kalamunda: “The following large sites are considered to present the best opportunities for the delivery of Aged Accommodation complexes across the various localities in the Shire of Kalamunda:
    • Lots 303, 53, 213 Brentwood Road, Wattle Grove...
    • Reserve 30314 Wilkins Road, Walliston...
    • Lot 800 Kalamunda Road, Maida Vale...
    • Pioneer Park, Forrestfield...
    • Reserve 35412 East Terrace Reserve, Kalamunda...
    • 100 Bougainvillea Avenue, Forrestfield...
    • Advent Park 345 Kalamunda Road, Maida Vale...”.
Furthermore, there are privately owned landholdings that the Shire could have been used for an aged care facility, but were instead rezoned and cleared for standard urban housing. A recent example is the Stirkwood Estate, Keane St Lesmurdie, which was an area of similar size to reserve 30314 on Wilkins Rd. There is the land on Glyde Road, Lesmurdie.