by Michael Giles

THEY did it the last time there was a boom in demand for residential blocks in Wonthaggi, ahead of the development of the $3.5 billion Victorian Desalination Plant.
They missed the boat then and they’ve missed the boat again this time.
And, as was the case last time, there’s no guarantee the good times or the good market conditions will remain to stoke job creation and the local economy, although interest rates are still low.
You’ve got to be ready to go when the market goes – when families need new homes!
It’s an absolutely basic responsibility of local government to provide a minimum of 15 years of approved residential blocks, ready to build on in approved residential locations.
And they’ve simply dropped the ball in Wonthaggi.
There will be no new blocks available in the town until December at the very earliest, we were told by the town’s estate agents today, with the bulk coming on stream between March and June next year.
And the main problem is in the shire offices.
Despite dealing with more planning applications and more complex projects, they have the same number of people in their planning department creating bottlenecks that have seen application limits timed-out and the projects effectively going straight to VCAT at added time and cost for the applicants.
It’s simply not good enough.
Certainly the Bass Coast Shire Council needs to be congratulated for the advocacy work it has done, helping to get the hospital and secondary school funded and also for stumping up its share of the cash for the sports stadium.
And it’s also listed the Wonthaggi North East residential precinct on its priority list for advocacy, calling for $14.6 million in State Government support.
But they’ve also got to the fix the problems in their own planning department as well, and if needs be, get more manpower in there to clear the bottlenecks.
That’s not an open invitation to blow the budget or puff out the workforce but it’s exactly the reason why you need to be driving efficiency in other areas, so you can meet demand when it comes.
We’ve heard it often enough from the Mayor and from others about the impressive growth in Bass Coast – for goodness sake recruit the people and give priority to the departments in the shire where this demand is hitting hardest.
Because the reality is, there is no residential accommodation in town and no building blocks to get housing stocks moving for the people that desperately need it. It’s a disgrace.