Council endorses controversial aged care facility

(Oliver Lees)

By Oliver Lees

Macedon Ranges council has endorsed a proposal to develop a 120 bed aged care facility outside the Romsey town boundary, following a debate on the issue which divided councillors.

The development is proposed on land at the corner of Melbourne-Lancefield Road and Hutchinsons Lane West, one kilometre north of Romsey’s township boundary and is classed as a ‘rural living zone’.

Following a discussion of the proposal at a meeting last week, a majority of five of the eight councillors present threw their support behind converting the patch into a residential aged care facility.

The decision went against the officer’s recommendation, which advised the location was inappropriate for an aged care facility given its remoteness from services and its zoning as a rural living zone.

But Cr Geoff Neil said he supported the application given the benefits “far outweigh the negatives”.

“The opportunity to replicate a facility in the east of the shire should be pursued with vigour,” Cr Neil said.

“It enables our elderly residents to downsize within an area that they have made their home… who have no desire to move away from a place they have come to love and enjoy,” Cr Neil said.

Cr Neil said the facility would also bring up to 130 jobs to the shire.

The proposed aged care facility would offer 120 beds and include 44 car parking spaces.

Cr Mark Ridgeway said although he did have concerns over the location, he supported the proposal as such a facility was “desperately needed” in the east ward.

Cr Rob Guthrie said the application “failed miserably” in protecting the land’s fertile soil, which he argued should be used only for agriculture.

“Everything I’ve seen over the last 18 years that I’ve been involved in council has said that this area must be protected, and that’s what the community has always wanted,” he said.

Mayor Jennifer Anderson cited the 2018 Romsey Issues and Opportunities Paper as the reason for her objection, which included community consultation that indicated that “no new growth should be located north of Hutchinsons Lane”.

The application is subject to a VCAT appeal

after council failed to determine the matter

within statutory timeframes.