Case in point: the not-for-profit BaptistCare recently won a six-year battle with just five neighbours to build a new retirement village in Canberra’s Red Hill, 4km from Parliament House.
The decision by the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal ran to a mammoth 82 pages over the site of an old nursing home.
The application had originally been lodged back in 2010, but the residents objected to its “mini-village” design. “They were talking about making it so you didn’t have to go anywhere out of this village,” neighbour Melissa Bennett told The Canberra Times.
So what did their five-year fight achieve? The number of units was dropped from 114 to 100, an attic was removed and a taller fence will be built. The locals want their new ‘neighbours’ boxed in now, we assume.
In the meantime, the site sat empty and unused. In a statement, BaptistCare stated the obvious: “The development will help to ease the future shortfall of seniors housing in the ACT.” Our comment: they would not risk the investment on something not needed or wanted.
Not in my backyard
It’s not the only case. Last year, Sambell Lodge, a nursing home for the homeless and mentally ill in Melbourne, finally had its expansion approved after the initial application was blocked by around 60 nearby residents at a cost of between $50,000 and $100,000, according to one Yarra councillor.
The reality is we are all getting older and people need options in our own backyard, whether it’s a village where we can enjoy our retirement or a nursing home where we can receive the care and support from nearby family.
Older people are often lambasted in the media for not downsizing and freeing up larger homes for younger families. But who wants to move away from their family, friends and community as they age?
We abhor political correctness, but aren’t these NIMBYs practising ‘discrimination’ against the elderly? Yes, residents should have a say in local developments, but it’s time for something to give.
Otherwise, where will we all live when we are old and frail?