Shire seeks $14.6m to ease housing crisis

WONTHAGGI is in the middle of a land supply crisis.
Local real estate agents told the Sentinel-Times this week that there are no new building blocks available for home starts and will not be until Christmas, at the very earliest.
They say the main problem is in the shire’s own office.
It’s more likely the situation will not be eased until building can commence between March and June next year.
The situation has prompted the Bass Coast Shire, at long last, to press the panic button.
They’ve called on the State Government to tip in $14.6 million into a plan that will open up 4400 residential blocks in the town.
Along with developing a sub-regional hospital (tick), a new senior secondary college campus (tick) and indoor sports stadium (tick); the housing proposal is a priority project on the shire’s ‘Shaping Our Future’ advocacy list.
Called the Wonthaggi North-East Precinct Infrastructure plan, it aims to release thousands of residential lots but also 70 hectares of commercial and industrial land as well as recreation and open space land.
However, the shire says it requires $14.6 million – directly or through a low-cost loan scheme – from the State Government to kick-start the project.
The council has already approved the release of 1000 of the 4400 blocks, which are presently limping through a laborious compliance process. And it’s where the local housing sector has told the shire to “pull its finger out”!
But for the remaining blocks, the council says it needs the money to start building basic infrastructure including roads, drainage and lights.
It will give developers certainty, they say, around the new precinct, which is set to grow Wonthaggi’s population by 8000 to 9000 more people.
They say it will also make the new estates more appealing and easier for the developers and mums and dads who want to build.
The Mayor Cr Pamela Rothfield, has acknowledged these latest developments will take time, with the first land not expected to be released until December 2019.
“It’s a complex and long process in any Planning Scheme Amendment, but it will be magnificent for Wonthaggi because it will open up so much and it’s accessible to the town, and you’ve got an abundance of opportunities there for young people to buy their first homes,” she said.
“It’s not going to be flooded with 4000 lots, it will be a roll-out.”
First-home buyers in the South Gippsland and Bass Coast region receive a $20,000 discount from the State Government – whereas in suburbia, it’s only $10,000.
“It’s a lot cheaper than in the city, where they’re paying ridiculous amounts,” Cr Rothfield said.
“We are growing and this will offer some relief to the pressures on the housing market.”
The council’s obliged to have at least 15 years of land supply across the shire, which the precinct plan will help maintain.
The mayor said the shire wasn’t in a financial position to be able to thrown millions of dollars at the required works, warning that the whole project could stall if the State Government didn’t come to the party.
Failure to complete the infrastructure would also put more pressure on small coastal towns.
“We’re protecting the Waterline towns as much as we possibly can, which is what the community’s asked us to do. Wonthaggi is our regional centre and this is the designated area for growth.”
Wonthaggi PBE Real Estate director Angela Di Conza said it’s fantastic to see Wonthaggi growing.
“Now we’re getting a new hospital and senior campus for Wonthaggi Secondary College, it’s just booming.
“Infrastructure needs to keep up, it completes the whole package,” she said.
The Cloverdale Park estate in Dalyston entered Stage 3 just a few weeks ago, with half of the blocks in the stage already sold. It’s one of the locations where unmet demand in Wonthaggi is going. Phillip Island and other coastal areas are also under the pump.