UP to 110 new residential properties could be created under a Northern Grampians Shire Council plan to ease the tight housing market in Stawell.
At its ordinary meeting Monday afternoon the council passed a motion to sell off two crown allotments of land on Sloane Street, near Cahill Road, to housing developers.
It expects to start receiving expressions of interest from developers in the near future.
The eight hectare site was rezoned in 2013 to a Residential 1 Zone, which means anywhere between 60 and 110 dwellings can be developed there.
The allotment is currently a vacant patch of field.
The council has not outlined a clear timeline for the sale as it is dependent on receiving expressions of interest.
For the same reason the council was unable to put a dollar figure on what the land is worth.
The council said that it anticipates around 1000 jobs coming to the region over the next five years, which Northern Grampians mayor Councillor Kevin Erwin said would require additional housing in Stawell.
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"While the jobs growth is a good problem to have, the issue of the housing shortage needs to be solved, otherwise we'll miss out on getting more families to our region as well," he said.
The council placed public notices about the development in local newspapers and its own website, and was required to review any submissions prior to making a formal decision, but received no public feedback.
The money council makes from the sale will be put into an existing development fund, as per its own policy, which goes towards projects like the Lord Nelson Park club rooms or the North Park redevelopment.
The plan is part of the Council Plan and the OPAN Project, which is an initiative funded by Regional Development Victoria.
OPAN stands for Opportunities Pyrenees Ararat Northern Grampians,and is a partnership between those councils which aims to fill workforce shortages by attracting job seekers from other areas.
To do that, those councils need to ensure there is adequate housing available.
The region is one of many rural locations struggling to keep up with the demand for housing, said Real Estate Institute of Victoria chief executive Gil King.
"The Real Estate Institute of Victoria is hearing growing concerns about tight rental markets throughout Regional Victoria and Ararat and Stawell are no exception," he said.
"It's an issue in Melbourne too, but more so in regional areas where the rate has halved in some places over the past 12 months.
"Take Wimmera for example, where the vacancy rate has decreased from 1.6 per cent in June 2018 to 1.2 per cent in June 2019.
"A rate of at least three per cent is required for a healthy rental market, so what this means is there is not enough rental stock to meet demand.
"With a rate of 1.2 per cent, there is clearly not enough rental housing in the Wimmera region and this is troubling for people trying to find accommodation.
"One would assume that rents have skyrocketed as a result of this demand for rental properties, but that's not necessarily the case. In Stawell the median weekly rent has only gone up modestly in the past couple of years.
"Small-scale investors own 83 per cent of all investment properties in Australia and the costs for these investor landlords are substantial including mortgage payments, insurance fees, care and maintenance costs, property management fees and taxes.
"Governments must be receptive to these concerns from landlords and support a fair and balanced regulatory and tax regime to encourage investment in rental properties."
Median rents in Stawell are:
- Financial year 2019: $250
- 2018: $225
- 2017: $220
REIV stated it did not have enough rental data for Ararat to produce a median weekly rent rate.
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