Retirement, health village ‘over the top’


On paper: Drawings of the proposed Ryman Healthcare village at Mt Eliza. Picture: Supplied

MORNINGTON MP David Morris says Ryman Healthcare’s plans for a multi-million dollar retirement village and nursing home at Moondah Estate, Mt Eliza, would be a “gross overdevelopment of the site, even if it was reduced by 50 per cent”.

The $5 billion New Zealand-based public company has earmarked 60-70 Kunyung Road for the fourth of five villages it plans to build in Melbourne by 2020. Others are at Mt Martha, Wheelers Hill, Burwood East, Coburg and Geelong.

Development manager Andrew Mitchell said it was a “great site” which fitted well with Ryman’s expansion plans in Victoria.

Earlier this month the company held information sessions for nearby residents, displaying plans and three-dimensional models of five-storey apartment blocks among 12 new buildings on the 8.9 hectare site. There will be 300 apartments, 91 assisted living suites, 120 care beds and 393 car parking spaces.

The buildings will abut the former Melbourne Business School and outbuildings set behind the heritage listed red brick, Tudor-style gatehouse.

Ryman bought the property from Melbourne University for a reported $40 million in September 2016.

The property has a special use zoning and is outside the urban growth boundary. It abuts the green wedge zone and has environmental significant overlays.

Mr Morris said Ryman’s proposal was “contrary to the intentions of successive councils and governments since at least [the] 1970s, if not before”.

“Whichever way you look at it, the development proposes to convert land that has always been intended to be part of the urban break between Mt Eliza and Mornington into a suburban precinct,” he said.

“I am familiar with the argument [that] we need more nursing home accommodation, but there has been no justification as to why it needs to be built outside the urban growth boundary.

“The argument seems to be that if there is a market for it, it should be built regardless of any other factors.”

While the Mornington township structure plan allows for four storeys in Main Street, the Ryman plans show five storey buildings.

Former Mornington Peninsula Shire councillor Leigh Eustace, of Mt Eliza, said to plans, showing supported accommodation for 600 residents, were a similar size to the RACV’s resort at Cape Schanck.

A Ryman promotional notice sees the proposed retirement village as being “perfectly positioned to enjoy sweeping sea views” for its 500-600 permanent residents: “As a seaside town, Mt Eliza exudes that wonderful holiday vibe, the ideal setting to ease into retirement living.

“We will offer a full range of retirement living and aged care options: from independent apartments, assisted living in serviced apartments, to the very best of low care, high care and specialist dementia care.

“Residents will enjoy resort-style facilities such as an all-weather bowling green, heated indoor swimming pool, cafe, hair and beauty salon and movie theatre.”

South Eastern Centre for Sustainability president Steve Karakitsos said residents in Kunyung Road and neighbouring streets were concerned the proposed “monolith” was “out of character in this quiet, idyllic neighbourhood, already affected by the increase in numbers at Kunyung Primary School and the increased traffic well past Acheron Avenue and Albatross Avenue”.

He said Ryman’s claim that there was “high demand” for more retirement living on the peninsula ignored those already being developed, including a Ryman Healthcare site at Mt Martha now being built and the expansion of the nearby George Vowell Centre on Nepean Highway, Mt Eliza “which will also be one of the biggest”.

“Protecting the significant number of animals on the site should be a priority,” Mr Karakitsos said.

“South East Water has been able to prioritise the importance of habitat on its site at 57 Kunyung Road, directly opposite Ryman Healthcare, by supporting the local community in protecting wildlife – even dropping plans for 25 houses,” he said.

First published in the Mornington News – 1 May 2018


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