By Cayla Dengate
Hipsters could be the key to avoiding suburban decline and Pittwater Council is determined to keep young people on the peninsula, floating the idea of an old folk’s home for young people.
Pittwater Mayor Jacqueline Townsend led a delegation of workers and local business leaders on a study tour to the USA in September for the Future Cities Program 2014, where they observed ways communities dealt with urban decline.
Cr Townsend said one of the emerging themes was seeing how ‘hipsters are helping the hip replacements’ — with young people bringing vibrancy to city centres that in turn enriches the experience for all age groups.
Pittwater has recently seen an explosion of hip venues, including small bar Edison’s and brewery Modus Operandi in Mona Vale, Palm Beach venue Cranky Fins and Avalon bar The Mill along with pop-up events and hipster offerings as part of the Enliven Pittwater program.
However inhibitive expensive real estate is one of the reasons that the 18-35 age demographic all but disappears in Pittwater.
Telstra employee Dale Cohen paid his own way to join the US delegation and said “the trip reinforced what we already know, our demographic cycle is broken and we must do something about it. It was a common theme that younger people were leaving communities for urban centres, and it wasn’t just cost driving this movement”.
Mr Cohen addressed the last Pittwater Council meeting to promote the idea of an old folk’s home for young people.
“We need to stop Pittwater becoming a retirement community, particularly one full of cranky old people,” Mr Cohen said. “If it’s reasonable to have SEP55 housing for retirees, why not something like a SEP30, where you have to be under 30 to buy?”
Councillors considered the concept of housing designed specifically for young people, with shop-top locations, limited parking but close to public transport and most importantly, affordable pricing.
But what do the young people think?
Nurse Tash Poynton, 23, grew up in Avalon but now lives in Leichhardt and said she’d need more than affordable housing to move back to the peninsula.
“It’s a beautiful area and I really miss the beaches, but personally, affordable housing isn’t enough to make me want to move back.
“In Leichhardt, I can have house parties until 4am and the police will never come but in Avalon, the police will be there by 9pm. It’s just got an older community.
“It’s so far from anywhere and there’s only one bus. The L90 has to be the most terrible bus route in Sydney.”
In tune with the demographic, Ms Poynton said she would love to return to the area if she settled down to have a family.
“I loved my childhood here and if I ever had kids I’d want to do the same,” Ms Poynton said.
This article was originally published in the