2018 contains some remarkable highlights, as well as building on the successes of previous years.
Firstly, the sector continues to expand. There are some 17,000 retirement village units in design, consenting or construction – but the chronic shortage of skilled tradies is a challenge to actually meeting the demand for units. We expect that demand will continue into 2019, as people realise the benefits of living in a retirement village (which includes realising the equity in their homes and perhaps having more money than they’ve ever had in their lives).
In July we launched our original research undertaken by PwC at a special event in Parliament. The PwC report looks at the economic contribution villages make locally and nationally, and covers employment, construction, housing stock and land use efficiencies. There’s not enough space to go into the detail, but a copy can be found on the RVA’s home page – www.retirementvillages.org.nz We’ve made good use of it with central and local government policy and decision makers, and that will continue in to 2019.
We were delighted that Parliament unanimously agreed to extend the rates rebate to income-eligible LTO residents – the cumulation of at least 15 years’ lobbying. A quick survey suggests that some 25% of our residents could be eligible for the rebate – that’s 10,000 people better off than they were last year! A great outcome and we thank MPs for their support.
Local government is also an important stakeholder for village developers. The RVA took the lead and introduced a number of local government planners to retirement villages, including a highly successful tour around four Kerikeri villages for the Mayor, other elected members, senior staff and planners from the Far North District Council. Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
Towards the end of the year the Auckland Council accepted the industry’s arguments that retirement village residents impose a modest demand on Council infrastructure, and further discounted development contributions payable by village developers. The jury’s still out on the potential savings for operators, but they will be substantial. While other Councils are under no requirement to follow Auckland’s precedent, we hope that the arguments used successfully in the Queen City will be relevant for other areas too.
Internally, the RVA enjoyed a record-breaking conference at Sky City in Auckland – a record number of delegates heard an outstanding line-up of speakers and viewed a record number of trade show booths. Speakers included Sir John Key, Aussie demographer Neer Korn, political commentator Matthew Hooten, Simon McGrath, the Chief Operating Officer for Accor Hotels, and took part in their very own Myers-Briggs analysis. Next year’s Conference will be in Brisbane.
Along with the Commission for Financial Capability, we took part in a dozen public meetings to explain the ins and outs of living in a retirement village. We also presented at a further 11 Grey Power branch meetings on a similar topic; the RVA’s presentation is a much appreciated brand-neutral education programme that we will be continuing in 2019.
Finally, we’ve claimed that our regulatory regime is world-leading. That was put to the test in 2018 by an invitation to brief the UK Government on our regime, because they’re just starting out on the retirement village road, and are where we were 30 years ago.
In short, 2018 was a highly successful year for the NZ retirement village sector. We look forward to building on that success in 2019.