Oak Tree Retirement Villages has withdrawn its development application to build 50 villas for seniors’ accommodation at Lake Munmorah.
Instead, the landowner, Mavid Group, will proceed with an existing approval for a 55-site manufactured home estate at 205 Elizabeth Dr.
Oak Tree Managing Director, Mark Bindon, said: “unfortunately, we were trumped by a town planning legal technicality that there seems no way around”.
“It’s a peculiarity of law where the zoning of the land will allow an over-50s residential home park but not a retirement village, which is astonishing,” he said.
“There’s two different legislations – we’re governed by the Retirement Villages Act and the landowner has approvals for a residential home park under other legislation,” Bindon said.
Central Coast Council has failed to respond to The Chronicle’s inquiries since February 28, seeking an understanding of these town planning laws.
“Council told us that there was a change to the Local Environment Plan in the wings but it needs to be endorsed by State Government,” Bindon said.
“NSW is different to other states where you can apply to get an exemption, and we tried to do that, but the state government said it really wasn’t their jurisdiction, it was a council issue, so we ended up back at council.
“So, we’ve lost our money, a six-figure sum, for our development application to council.
“We’re devastated to be quite honest, that despite our best efforts, we couldn’t get there.
“This hasn’t happened to us before,” Bindon said.
“Council really isn’t the problem, it’s navigating the pre-existing planning legislation that we’re dealing with.
“We’re heavily committed to the region and the first residents at our Kanwal village will be moving in about June or July.
“We’ll keep looking for another investment site, but the Lake Munmorah area is where there’s a chronic shortage of seniors’ accommodation, so if we could find a more appropriate piece of land, we most certainly would build there.”
Mavid Group Development Manager, Jim Armstrong, said the company was proceeding to Construction Certificate stage of the current approval for 55 manufactured homes on the 2.005ha site.
“We plan on delivering the first stages of this project in the second half of this year,” Armstrong said.
Interview, Feb 27
Mark Bindon, Oak Tree Retirement Villages.
Central Coast Council.
Media statement, Feb 28
Jim Armstrong, Mavid Group
Reporter: Sue Murray