A PRIVATE planning consultant has accused the South Gippsland Shire Council of one of the worst oversights it can commit, allowing a town to run out of home sites.
That town is Leongatha and according to Trevor Ludeman, a director of regional planning consultancy firm Project, Planning and Development Pty Ltd, it will be out of new blocks of land inside two years.
He’s not just any planning consultant.
As a former employee of the South Gippsland Shire, he knows the local planning scheme inside out and he has intimate knowledge of the dynamics of the Leongatha property market.
“Since 2008, there has been hardly any rezoning,” Mr Ludeman said, during a presentation to the new council last week.
“With the existing 90 lots available and between 47 and 65 new homes being built in Leongatha each year, you’ve possibly got two years land supply left.
“Long term, the demand will be an average of 59 dwellings a year if Leongatha is to reach its projection for a population of 8000 people by 2031.”
Of course, Mr Ludeman is representing a would-be land developer, one who is offering to add an additional 140 blocks to the town’s stocks, or three years supply, at the end of Parr Street.
But even though the site already has strategic support in the shire’s planning scheme, it could take two years to rezone the land, develop it and bring it to the market.
It’s a very tight timeline, according to Mr Ludeman.
The local shire’s director of Development Services, Bryan Sword, begs to differ.
He claims there are actually “hundreds of lots available”.
“There are well in excess of 90 lots in Leongatha at the moment,” he said, directly denying Mr Ludeman’s claims the supply of home sites will be exhausted within two years.
Either way though, it’s clear the council has dropped the ball on its responsibility to provide between 10 years and 15 years of residential land supply in the town.
“The rezoning of Parr Street would equate to a modest increase of three years supply, increasing current supply from three to six years,” Mr Ludeman said in summary.
“The project has a very strong strategic basis and you should be supporting it,” he told council.
“What you are doing is artificially constraining the growth of Leongatha.”
Cr Jeremy Rich responded to Mr Ludeman’s challenge saying that when council looked at rezoning land it had to consider the overall benefit to the community.
Cr Andrew McEwen asked the consultant for his opinion on whether he thought Leongatha was going to run out of land for housing.
“It’s going to get very tight,” Mr Ludeman said.