Thursday, May 30, 2024

Plans to convert wedding venue into hostel for women over 55

Peakhurst’s famous wedding venue ‘Gardens on Forest’ could become a hostel for seniors and disadvantaged women.

A development application lodged last month with Georges River Council shows plans for construction of a $9.9 million hostel containing 70 rooms for use as seniors housing for women at the heritage venue at 762-764 Forest Road and 21 Prospect Road, Peakhurst.

“The proposed development will serve the specific purpose of providing a seniors housing hostel which will accommodate women who are disadvantaged and are over the age of 55, or with a disability,” according to the Statement of Environmental Effects accompanying the DA.

“The proposed development will serve the immediate and wider community and wider locality through the provision of a high quality facility which offers security and safety for its future residents.

An artist’s impression of the new development.

“The facility will provide well-furnished private rooms with a range of shared facilities which will facilitate a socially inclusive environment.”

The SEE said the proposal has been designed to complement the Victorian heritage structure.

Under the DA, there will also be the construction of a new L-shaped, three storey building facing Forest Road and Prospect Road with basement parking access from from the north-west corner of the site.

There will be 70 rooms of which 55 units will have private bathrooms and kitchenettes and the remaining 15 will have kitchenettes.

There will be a communal room on the ground floor, a swimming pool, gym and change room, and 14 car parking spaces.

The site is zoned R2 Low Density Residential which allows for a hostel.

The Statement of Environmental Effects said the development was in the public interest and recommended approval.

Gardens on Forest owner Sonia Fenton said there is an enormous need for homes for aging women in the community.

“A hostel is just a town planning term for a place that people live and meals are supplied,” she said.

“It’s not a backpackers hostel or anything like that. There is a most desperate need for this type of accommodation for women who are over 55. There’s a ten-year waiting list for social housing in St George.

“Innovate Architects from Oatley developed the concept and the development complies with all the conditions.

“”They have condensed the design so that it has as little impact as possible.

“I’ve looked after the Gardens for 11 years and there’s no more money to support it any longer,” Ms Fenton said,

“I’m not in it for profit. I intend to donate the land to a not-for-profit organisation that would be able to run the establishment for disadvantaged women. 

“These will be ordinary mums and aunts who can’t get a job or their superannuation is inadequate because they haven’t had regular employment.”

This article first appeared in The Leader.

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