Retirement village on hold

Ian Braybrook is pictured at the block of land donated for the project. Photo: Eve Lamb

Plans for the development of an affordable retirement village for Castlemaine are on hold after the potential developer of the project pulled out for reasons connected to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The disappointed working group behind the project said that much groundwork, discussion and planning had gone into the lifestyle village concept since a parcel of land was generously donated for the project by a local farming family in early 2020.
Working group member Ian Braybrook said the group of 10 local citizens had been working hard behind the scenes to try to get the project up.
“We had a town planner who had generously offered to help us pro bono with our efforts to have the block near the Castlemaine Golf Club at Muckleford rezoned from Farming to Rural Living and a lot of interest from people keen to be part of the project,” he said.
Mr Braybrook and his partner Marilyn Bennett have been campaigning for a number of years for the establishment of an affordable retirement option for local retirees.
“On a personal level, Marilyn and I are disillusioned and have withdrawn from the group. The years have sapped our energy and we will now, like so many others, look to moving to an area where suitable and affordable accommodation is available,” he said.
The long-time resident said a definite need existed for a retirement village in Castlemaine.
“A barrel of gold awaits those willing to have ago and prepared to wait for a good return. I am so sorry that our developer cannot proceed. They offered affordable homes, well within the reach of most, unlike most, who price their units at a level many cannot afford,” he said.
Those close to the project told the Express they had concerns the shire council might have recently held discussions with another large retirement village developer.
“We are concerned as this developer’s properties generally retail for a lot more than what we were looking at for this particular project, which aims to provide an affordable option for retirees,” they said.
When questioned about any potential retirement village developments on the horizon for the region, a Mount Alexander Shire Council spokesperson told the Express council was supportive of the concept.
“As stated in our current Council Plan, council has a strong desire to support the development of a retirement village somewhere in the shire.
“Council officers have been working for many years to promote this opportunity to developers in that industry. To our knowledge however, no developers of retirement villages have yet committed to pursuing such an opportunity in Mount Alexander Shire,” the spokesperson said.