Ambitious redevelopment sets a standard for community engagement

Last updated on 13 June 2024

Uniting NSW.ACT is transforming aged care in Kingscliff, NSW, with a modern approach to accommodation and community engagement. [Uniting NSW.ACT]

An ambitious new development is in the works on the Far North Coast of New South Wales as Uniting NSW.ACT revamps its aged care home in Kingscliff. Hello leaders spoke with Adrian Ciano, Head of Property Development, about the project.

A transformational vision

It’s safe to say that Uniting’s Kingscliff project is one of the most comprehensive developments on the radar. The current site provides 86 residential aged care places, while the proposed development will create a ‘high-quality seniors’ care community’ featuring 199 independent living units, 120 aged care places and a range of community amenities like a seniors’ gym, cinema and hairdresser/day spa.

Uniting has occupied the site for more than 30 years. This development shakes up the status quo given the current facility has a small footprint on a large site surrounded by houses on all sides. It’s a necessary shake-up, as Mr Ciano explained. 

“There’s a legacy of providing care. The current assets are not meeting contemporary expectations for what accommodation might look like. Whilst the care is great, it’s about those assets reaching the end of life,” he said.

“We had a look at what the future need is the Tweed catchment around Kingscliff and we found out there’s still quite a sustained need for aged care and we’re one of the few who are providing services in the area.”

Given the site only provides aged care services, Mr Ciano said the organisation was keen to diversify its services and decouple care from accommodation to better support older people across the spectrum. Hence the development of a site featuring independent living units where residents may not access any services at all, but have the reassurance that they’re available when needs change.

“People should be able to, wherever possible, receive care into their accommodation of choice. […] I think it’s well known in the industry that co-located sites have far more demand as a result of people understanding there’s diversity of service provision from both accommodation and care available on the same site,” Mr Ciano added.

“Our vision is to create a contemporary, welcoming seniors community with a real sense of heart, place and care. Creating a village with the ability for people to come together and interact will help foster social engagement, which is a large part of seniors’ wellness.”

Promoting community engagement

Community feedback resulted in major changes to the Kingscliff development, including reduced building heights, fewer buildings and more green space. [Uniting NSW.ACT]

The Kingscliff project is classified as a State Significant Development in NSW, meaning it undergoes a thorough application process. Currently, it’s in the exhibition stage which allows for public consultation. However, the proposal has already undergone several substantial changes after Uniting conducted two rounds of community consultation.

Changes include reduced building heights and setbacks, with three 5-storey buildings,four 4-storey buildings and one 2-storey building reduced to six 4-storey buildings and one 2-storey building. All setbacks were increased, including top-floor setbacks, to reduce visibility and protect neighbouring residents’ privacy.

Additionally, the site itself will be environmentally sustainable with key inclusions such as no natural gas connection, provisions for electric vehicles, shared solar access and 22% tree canopy coverage. 

“We have made quite substantial changes to the development, we believe as having listened to the community. There’s a lot more landscape space, there are fewer buildings and they are lower and further away from boundaries than before,” Mr Ciano said. 

“We moved some of the spaces where people come together to use, such as the pool, away from boundaries. So we’re internalising the development into the middle of the site as much as possible while still enabling people to come together.”

There’s a growing trend across aged care with providers embedding themselves further into local communities. For Uniting, their approach is to deliver services across a continuum of care. For the entire sector, it’s a sign that aged care is evolving and residential aged care is just one piece of the puzzle.

Long-term investments like this are regularly incorporating health, wellness and wellbeing elements. They’re also tapping into community engagement opportunities such as cafes and restaurants, or even intergenerational spaces such as early learning centres or communal parks. 

“This redevelopment embodies what came out of the Royal Commission and how we can best support and cater to this community in the future,” Mr Ciano added.

“We think we can decouple that accommodation and care component to help people age successfully within the seniors community. We’re not putting a whopping big gate around the outside […] we’d love to engage with the broader community so meaningful interactions can occur.”

aged care
uniting NSW.ACT
retirement living
independent living
New South Wales
ageing in place
continuum of care
assisted living