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Swan Valley aged care venture looks to future

A SWAN Valley aged care proponent hopes that the recognised need for aged care in the valley, combined with the intent of the Kobelke Report, will override current planning regulations in the Swan Valley Rural Zone and allow the approval of his $35-million-dollar aged care facility.

Gordon Tucker is the man behind the development that would see a three-storey high-care aged care building, catering for 120 residents, built towards Dale Road in Middle Swan.

A two-storey low-care aged care building will be located north of the high-care facility and will accommodate 67 low-care independent living units, with a clubhouse and pool just north of this facility.

A men’s shed and a community building, open to the public, are proposed for the Yukich Close frontage.

His quest to develop this aged care facility dates back to 2016, when he made an application with the City of Swan for a change to the Swan Valley’s Local Planning Scheme 17 that would allow his land on Dale Road to be used for a retirement village.

While the City backed his application, the Western Australian Planning Commission did not, and without the proper zoning his development application would never succeed.

His land is located in the Swan Valley Rural Zone, with “aged or dependent persons dwelling” listed as an x use – not permitted, despite the land never being used for any form of agriculture.

Mr Tucker has faith that the intent of the late John Kobelke’s report into the Swan Valley, combined with the clear need in the valley, will convince the Outer Metro Joint Development Panel to approve the development.

“We’ve always maintained that the site we’ve got in Dale Road in Middle Swan is the best location for an aged care facility,” he said.

“The land has never had agriculture on it for the last 100 years.

“When you look at the aging population in the Swan Valley, many of those older people, the ones we’ve spoken to, say they don’t want to leave the valley, but they’re getting too old to work the land.

“If you don’t have kids who want to work the land, you’re looking at getting someone else but with one property per four hectares in the valley, you’ve got nowhere to go.

“For those older people in the valley, we don’t want to split them up and send them to Ellenbrook and Midland and Bayswater.

“I believe in what we’re doing.

“The Kobelke Report says there is a need for aged care in the Swan Valley.

“If you read his report, it really matches our site to a tee, it really does.”

The Kobelke Report recommends supporting the development of one aged care facility in the valley, with locational factors including an accessible site, access by public transport, a site minimally impacted by dust, noise, odours and spray drift and avoiding a location that is suitable for viticulture, horticulture or agriculture – all factors that Mr Tucker’s proposed development complies with.

However the Kobelke Report is not yet enshrined in legislation, and the City of Swan – and JDAP – can only judge applications on current legislation.

The State Government officially responded to the Kobelke Report in October 2019, releasing the Swan Valley Action Plan, which was to be followed by the drafting of a new Swan Valley Bill, a local planning strategy and the Swan Valley Planning Scheme.

The Action Plan indicated the new planning strategy and scheme would identify a suitable site for aged care facilities.

“Until you experience it through a loved one, you don’t realise what’s going on, and people in the valley tell me they don’t want to go and move away when they’re at that age,” Mr Tucker said.

“It’s not fair for those people to have to move away.

“I hope JDAP do support it and they have the sense to see it’s a project worth supporting.

“It’s definitely needed in the Swan Valley…I have no control over what they think but I hope they support it.”
  Mr Tucker’s development application is currently with the City of Swan and open for public comment for the next ten days at www.swan.wa.gov.au/Your-Community/Have-your say/Planning-notices/DA467-20

It will then be reviewed by the Swan Valley Planning Committee before being presented to council later this year.

Council can resolve to recommend JDAP approve or deny the application, but JDAP will have the final say on the future of aged care in the Swan Valley.

A Q and A session on the proposed development will be held on Tuesday at Baskerville Hall from 6pm to 7.30pm.

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