Senior Living Incentives

Brad Marland, Partner, Brisbane

Senior Living Incentives – Brisbane City Council

This week, Brisbane City Council announced that it would be considering a number of initiatives to encourage the planning and construction of retirement and residential care living developments.  The implementation of incentives and the streamlining of application processes, will be welcomed by both the industry and the city of Brisbane, where the demand for retirement living is set to double by 2025. 

Ageing Population

There is projected to be a 72% increase in the population aged over 65 by 2024. This equates to an additional 100,000 people each year. The impact of this increase will become evident over the next decade, and it is expected that by 2025 up to 7.5% of senior Australians will want to live in retirement care living, which is double the current rate. 

An ageing population in Queensland means the current supply of 34,000 retirement and residential care units is grossly inadequate, with estimates Queensland will need to more than triple the supply by 2050. In Greater Brisbane, the amount of aged care will need to double over the next 20 years to meet this accelerating demand. 

Current Planning Framework

Currently, there are a number of impediments to the development of retirement and residential care units, which prevents construction meeting demand, including:

  • infrastructure charges which do not reflect that retirement and aged care living, places less demand on infrastructure networks than other residential developments (note: Logan City Council is an exception to this where they have implemented Queensland Government’s ‘fair charge’ policy);
  • planning and zoning frameworks which prevent developers achieving desirable density for project viability; and
  • retirement and aged care living developments competing against other residential developments for desirable sites in sought after locations.
  • In addition to issues regarding the planning and construction of retirement and aged care living developments, there are a number of other issues currently impacting the viability, including:
  • age pension means testing can discourage downsizing for senior Australians (note: this is a federal issue, rather than a state issue); 
  • stamp duty costs; and
  • residents in retirement villages cannot access rebates and concessions on their rates. 

Proposed amendments

The Lord Mayor announced Brisbane City Council will be amending the city planning framework to facilitate the construction of new and the upgrade of existing aged care facilities, in the following ways:

  • update the City Plan’s strategic framework;
  • enable refurbishment of older, already existing facilities;
  • allow retirement living facilities in low and medium density zoned areas;
  • increase the building height allowable in medium and high density zoned areas for retirement living facilities;
  • facilitate integration of retirement living with existing facilities such as churches and sports facilities (i.e. lawn bowls clubs); and 
  • facilitate co-location of supporting uses in retirement living, such as coffee shops and recreational activities. 

In addition to this revision of the planning framework, Brisbane City Council will be presenting initiatives that will benefit developers and encourage supply, such as:

  • reducing costs of infrastructure charges levied on qualifying aged care and retirement living developments; and
  • creating a more streamlined development assessment process. 


This update does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. It is intended only to provide a summary and general overview on matters of interest and it is not intended to be comprehensive. You should seek legal or other professional advice before acting or relying on any of the content.