In partnership with two community recreation clubs, RetireAustralia conceived a new concept to co-locate new multi-level retirement communities on underutilised land managed by the clubs in inner urban areas of Brisbane – Ashgrove and Tarragindi. The clubs were strong advocates for the concept as the proposed financial model would effectively support their continued operation at a time of falling membership and reduced revenues.
However, broader community support was critical to receiving development approval from Brisbane City Council and BBS was engaged to manage a process to bring the respective neighbourhoods into the discussion.
As the co-location was an entirely new concept, our engagement approach centred on building a positive narrative around the urgent need for retirement housing options broadly but particularly in those specific communities, with evidence showing most older people were forced to move away from their support network to find housing which was appropriate to their age and lifestyle.
We presented RetireAustralia’s vision and ensured community members had access to technical specialists – architects, planners, traffic engineers – with whom to discuss development options. Opposition to the concept was anticipated and the reaction to the proposals were mixed across both locations, although more strongly anti-development in Tarragindi.
Following a number of direct briefings and ‘open house’ sessions to introduce the concept and RetireAustralia as a business, we were able to read the ‘temperature’ of the community and map a forward plan for communication. This involved detailed liaison with Council planners and elected officials and also intimate conversations with many community members whose position ranged from the highly supportive to the intensely negative.
RetireAustralia was prepared to work closely with key stakeholders to explain core elements of their approach and also to re-design elements of the proposal to reflect community attitudes. The Tarragindi project was ultimately approved by Brisbane City Council, as the first of its kind under the City’s Town Plan. A subsequent court challenge was denied and RetireAustralia was permitted to proceed. The Ashgrove project did not proceed beyond the initial engagement phase due to commercial considerations.
“BBS’ proposal to engage through Deliberative Enquiry sessions with key members of the (sic) community was a great initiative that allowed us to genuinely understand, consider and respond to their concerns. The sessions allowed us to work through some complex issues and I really believe made a significant difference in getting the development to the stage that it is at, without being impacted by community opposition.” Retire Australia