News & Media

Partnership to Investigate Co-Housing Options to Age in Place

The City of Unley is leading the charge on a partnership project to test what housing options might be possible in response to the needs of older residents.

A project focusing on new opportunities for existing housing brings together the Office for Ageing Well, State Planning Commission, along with the Cities of Unley, Burnside, Prospect and Walkerville and the University of South Australia (UniSA) to undertake four detailed design studies.

A significant number of older residents face few choices to ‘downsize’ in their current neighbourhood when their housing no longer suits their needs or when they wish to avoid living alone.

The project will investigate how existing older houses in Adelaide might be altered and extended to create one or more additional dwellings on an existing site to create socially cohesive co-housing arrangements for older residents wishing to stay in their own home – often referred to as ‘ageing in place’. This project, significant in its scope and broad in its application, will for the first time explore a major gap in housing opportunities – the ‘missing middle’ of Adelaide’s older suburbs.

A key outcome of this study is to inform the development of the new Planning and Design Code, set to replace all South Australian Development Plans by mid-2020.

A hypothetical example to help illustrate a possible scenario is the story of Ron; a resident in Malvern for 46 years. Ron’s wife passed away last year, and although Ron wants to stay, he finds it difficult to keep up with the maintenance of the large house and garden. Ron would like to share his property by building and renting a small unit in the rear of his property. The person renting could assist Ron with household duties and yard maintenance, they could share a meal regularly or work together on a vegetable patch. In this way, the project assists not only older people, but also those looking for reduced rent options or to better connect with their community.

Dr Damian Madigan, Senior Lecturer in Architecture at the School of Art, Architecture and Design at UniSA, said the project will have far-reaching potential. ‘The timeliness of this work is significant, as it will help address the needs of older residents during the ongoing infill housing investigations that form part of the Government’s new State Planning and Design Code consultations.’

Mayor Michael Hewitson said the project recognises that the outcomes will apply beyond the boundaries of any Council area. ‘We are delighted that the City of Unley was successful in securing an Age Friendly SA grant through the Office for Ageing Well, and that the collaboration is occurring across four Local Government areas,’ he said.

This collaborative project will include opportunity for community engagement, with findings due to be released by mid-2020.

Opportunities for the public to be involved in community consultation will be announced through the project partners; the Office for Ageing Well, State Planning Code, the Cities of Unley, Burnside, Prospect and Walkerville and the University of South Australia.