Catholic non-profit organizations submit plans for retirement home

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A Catholic organization started more than 100 years ago to provide shelter for the blind has applied to build a $35 million retirement community in Melbourne’s north-east suburbs.

VMCH has submitted a planning application to Banyule City Council for 56 apartments in a five-story retirement home in Ivanhoe East, approximately 8 km from the CBD.

A mix of self-contained one, two and three bedroom units, a roof terrace, cinema, wine room, gym, lounge, cafe, restaurant and chapel are planned.

The facility extends over two adjacent properties on Untere Heidelberger Strasse and, at 5732 m², is the largest property in the immediate vicinity.

Melbourne-based planning firm Human Habitats submitted the application on behalf of VMCH, saying the Ivanhoe East site has a long history of senior living and specialist housing.

“Currently, a disused aged care facility and 23 self-contained living units are located across the site,” Human Habitats wrote.

“The buildings have reached their useful life and are no longer fit for purpose.”

Human Habitats said VMCH is in the process of relocating many of the residents to other purpose-built facilities, including a nearby mission-based affordable housing project under construction.

The intention was to build and hold a long-term residential community.

▲ The planning application calls for 56 apartments in a five-storey senior village in Ivanhoe East.

Jackson Clements Burrows Architects will design the building, winning against two other architects in an invitation-only design competition.

Of the 56 planned apartments, six will be one-bedroom apartments, 37 two-bedroom apartments and the remaining 13 three-bedroom apartments.

A basement level will provide parking for 81 cars and there will be approximately 1370 m² of outdoor communal space.

With five floors, the retirement village will reach a maximum height of 20.4 m, with most of the building being 18 m high.

However, in discussions prior to the accommodation, Banyule Council has made it clear that the building height could be an issue.

In an email written in June, Hayley Plank of Banyule’s development planning department said: “A four-story building is considered more appropriate”.

“The maximum height of 18 m plus a 2.4 m high partially covered roof terrace is significantly larger than any other development in the immediate vicinity,” said Plank.

“Adjacent development includes a number of single-storey apartment buildings to the west, all separately owned and unlikely to be rehabilitated in the near future,” she said.

“The five-story building will dominate these apartments and views from the west.”

VMCH began as the Catholic Braille Writers’ Association in 1907 and some 30 years later opened the Villa Maria Hostel – a residence for the blind – on Donald Street, Prahran.

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