WIMMERA leaders plan to lay the groundwork to attract new housing developments to the region in the first half of 2020.
It comes as maps provided to the Mail-Times show how the footprints of the region's major population centres have changed over time.
Horsham in 1993 v 2019
In Horsham, some major residential areas added in the past quarter-century have come south and east of the Wimmera River, including Major Mitchell Drive, Stockton Drive and Mardon Drive.
There has also been some expansion west of Hillary Street in Horsham West.
Wimmera Development Association executive director Chris Sounness said over the next six months, the organisation would work with key stakeholders in the region to understand the situation with housing.
"We want to try and build on work the WDA did in 2015 and update it... to understand what housing is available, where its located and the quality of housing," he said.
"Getting baseline evidence is important if you're going to make sure you tackle the right problem. We want to give all the various stakeholders some facts to base the discussion around, and whoever is appropriate to lead will shape up funding proposals or ways to engage the private sector."
In 2013, a WDA study noted "businesses in the Wimmera Southern Mallee region have become increasingly concerned that a lack of appropriate housing is acting as a barrier to attracting and retaining skilled employees".
Ararat in 2019 v 2004
Ararat Rural City chief executive Tim Harrison said his organisation would undertake a housing strategy of its own in 2020. He described growth in accommodation options in the city in the past 20 years as "fairly modest".
"We'll be looking at how communities across Australia have already overcome that problem (of insufficient housing options)," he said.
"We'll also look at the kind of housing residents who want to move to Ararat will be looking for - is it rural residential medium density, is it 800 square metre blocks?
"We've also identified the Ararat East Development Zone, which we are currently working with Regional Development Victoria around funding to open up some enabling infrastructure in that space.
"That will be a mixed-use zone - there will be some light industrial and also some housing opportunities in that area - and there is already a subdivision on the books, but we need to do some work around the railway crossing to make that happen."
Mr Harrison said the council was also in conversation with state government organisation Development Victoria about how to overcome "partial market failure".
"Ballarat has an active housing industry because plenty of people want to buy houses, plenty of developers, want to sell and develop land and there is a very healthy private sector market," he said.
"In a place like Ararat, it's not as profitable to develop land. Therefore there is a problem with getting developers to engage in the market, so it's what they call it a partial market failure."
Stawell in 2003 v 2019
Maps provided by Northern Grampians Shire Council show in the past 16 years, Stawell has seen few new developments, save for a small estate on the corner of Oregan and Napier Streets called "The Plantation".
The town is preparing to welcome more workers needing accommodation in the next year.
Mayor Murray Emerson said the council was deciding which one of five developers it would partner with to meet the city's urgent housing needs.
"We have a 60-house development block just off the highway in Stawell West in Sloane Street," he said.
"Hopefully we'll get something going in a three or four-stage development plan where they can develop a few units at a time over the next six to twelve months."
The council previously had plans to sell the land to developers.
Mr Emerson said the municipality had identified three other smaller areas of Stawell suitable for short-term development.
"One is off Patrick Street and we understand it will be developed by the people who own it if it goes ahead," he said.
"Another is on Darlington Road towards Marnoo, and the third one is an area we call Griffith Street. They're all basically council-owned properties, but if we can get something (at Sloane Street) the others might well become irrelevant."
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