A drawing of the proposed multi-storey residential complex within the revitalised James Cook University precinct.
A drawing of the proposed multi-storey residential complex within the revitalised James Cook University precinct. Hannah Slater

James Cook wants retirees in the university

INTEGRATING into the community is the driver for Townsville's James Cook University's Discovery Rise project which will include aged care and retirement living.

For retirees it will provide a chance for them to connect with the learning environment and the many generations that meet within the university precinct.

The project director Alan Carpenter said the university hopes that many of the retirees "become customers" and participate in its degree, short and summer courses on offer.

"This is probably not a well explored concept in Australia called 'university link retirement living'," he said.

"It's a concept that's been developed quite extensively in the USA. Essentially, not every retired person is into lawn bowls and bingo. There is another group of retired people who quite value living in reasonable proximity to a university, and probably a hospital as well. They then have access to the library and café's."

The Discovery Rise vision is centred around it being sustainable, compact, walkable and providing a place which facilitates interaction and exchange.

Mr Carpenter said it's also about survival. "If we, particularly in the regions, stick with the conventional campus in the suburbs or campus in the bush, it's finished or dead," he said.

"The young people don't want it. The wold is moving on. It's much more about being dynamic and community focused."

The first stage of the 80ha development of the university campus into a university town will be a partner project with the adjoining hospital and include an aged care facility.

"Aged care will be particularly useful as we teach aged care and allied health, and plus the proximity of the hospital, is particularly suited to a high-care, aged care situation," Mr Carpenter said.

He expects it will be at least another three years before the building will be available.

A developer is yet to signed, although Mr Carpenter said there are several Aged Care providers showing interest in taking on the development and ultimately its operation.

The accommodation component of the Discovery Rise project is expected to have about 2000 dwellings.

The developers will be encouraged to incorporate in the venue design ageing in place style accommodation. "Any developer worth their salt will build that in," Mr Carpenter said.

Build-to-rent may be pursued as a development option which would then facilitate affordable housing.

The accommodation design is intended to create low-cost living with minimal energy use in the tropical climate.

Around the precinct healthy lifestyle choices such as walking and cycling for moving around will be facilitated.

The planned housing area will include a lot of shared and interactive green space to balance reducing the desire and need for private gardens.

"There seems to be good things that happen when you mix up the generations," Mr Carpenter said.

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