THE spokesperson for a group of Gooseberry Hills residents campaigning against a planned aged-care facility has admitted what many have suspected for some time – that while everyone accepts more-aged care is needed in the hills, nobody wants it next to them.
Ian Rintoul has lived in Gooseberry Hill since 1972, and he is representing a group of about 40 residents campaigning against a rezoning application at 41 Marion Way.
If granted, the special use rezoning for aged and dependent persons application will allow the construction of an aged-care facility that Mr Rintoul believes is entirely inappropriate for the parcel of land, which is boarded by Girrawheen Drive and Marion Way.
He said the residents he represents were concerned about the lack of facilities for the elderly in Gooseberry Hill, the impact of two additional driveways on Marion Way, and their way of life being impacted.
While they realise the importance of more aged care in the hills region, they believe this development should not be where it is.
“The essential services simply aren’t in Gooseberry Hill,” Mr Rintoul said.
“It’s not practical and we think it’s just a money-making way of subdividing the blocks and getting through permission to rezone to smaller areas and possibly escalate that into even greater density.
“It boils down to changing the environment and not for the better.”
When asked if this was another case of residents wanting aged care, but not wanting it near them, Mr Rintoul said it was.
“Yes, I think it probably is in many ways,” he said.
“It would just simply change the environment we’re living in now and we want to protect that and preserve that.
“This may not be just for aged care, it could possibly be for other people and it’s been suggested that we might get parolees, we might get refugees, you know, transient-type people coming through which might be into that category too and might not be very suitable for the area that we’re in now, which is normally pretty safe.”
However recent statistics show that action is required urgently if the future needs of the aged are to be met in the region.
Population prediction statistics show that by 2021, the population of residents in the Kalamunda region aged above 70 will be 9170.
Accounting for current aged care facilities, the Kalamunda Aged Care Committee, chaired by Hasluck MHR Ken Wyatt, predicts that by 2021, there will be 538 more aged care beds required to meet the need of aged residents.
Kalamunda MLA Matthew Hughes said the need for more aged care facilities was vital and that concerns about amenity had the potential to be over-stated.
“They [aged-care facilities] tend not to be rowdy institutions,” he said.
“There would be sections within the community who take the view that the location of aged care in or near them is an inappropriate development.
“To that extent there is pushback, but that should not obviate decisions being made on good planning grounds, even if there is a community objection to it.
“Aged care is absolutely needed in the area and it’s well understood there is a shortage.”
Mr Hughes added the State Government has established an inter-agency working group between the Departments of Health, Planning, Communities and Local Government to identify land that was in government and Local Government ownership across the state, but particularly in relation to the eastern metropolitan region, that would lend itself to development of aged care facilities.
The public comment period for the Marion Way rezoning ends on May 11, and comments can be made via email to [email protected] or through the City of Kalamunda website.