HORSHAM Rural City Council has approved a 35 dwelling project in Horsham at Monday night's council meeting.
Elmstone Property Group proposed the $4.85m project at 52 - 56 Alexander Avenue, compromising of single-storey, one-bedroom dwellings and associated subdivision.
Councillor Penny Flynn supported the motion and said Horsham needed affordable entry-level housing.
Councillor David Bowe seconded the motion. The motion was also supported by Councillor Les Power who stated the project would deliver much-needed jobs.
Councillor Di Bell opposed the motion with concerns it wouldn't fit in with the characteristics of the neighbourhood.
Cr Flynn moved the motion subject to the delegates report and with an additional clause of the applicant providing traffic calming in Alexander Avenue to address residents concern's in relation to speeding.
People have said why Horsham north?" she said.
"I say why should be divided by a railway line. We need affordable housing at entry-level.
"We need a diverse range of housing for those who live within our community.
"Not everyone wants a large home on a large block..."
Prior to Monday's meeting, Elmstone Property Group hosted a public consultation session to address several residents objections.
It also addressed concerns around traffic, neighbourhood character, housing type and bushfire risks, all of which were considered in the the council's planning officer's assessment.
The proposal comprised low maintenance, affordable residential units ideally suited to the aging population. The proposal reads the project directly implements local planning policy which states that Horsham will experience a significant increase in the population of residents 60 years and over during the next 20 to 30 years.
Councillor Les Power urged councillors to think about the development very seriously.
"I do support the original motion," he said.
"We have a company who want to build 35 units in town.
"Horsham at the moment needs development. Horsham needs jobs. Horsham needs employment. Horsham needs all the associated activities that go with the building.
"We need it now."
Mayor Robyn Gulline said she supported the motion after initial concerns.
"I've been reflecting on this so much trying to work out how do we as a Council meet the diverse needs to the community," she said.
"Not my needs, the diverse needs of the community and what's in the best interests of our community.
"Housing availability is tight. We keep seeing people write in the paper how difficult it is to get housing.
"They are families."
Cr Guilline said despite the development only being single bedrooms, it would benefit families in the longer-term.
"There are very limited one-bedroom options," she said.
"How many people are living in large premises that don't want and don't really need and would be much happier in a smaller premise.
"If they moved out of their larger dwelling that then leaves capacity for families and others to find accommodation."
Councillor Di Bell said she had serious concerns about the precedent the council could be setting.
"We've always had diversity and I'm not disagreeing that we need more diversity in housing and smaller units available, however, I don't think it should all be in one spot," she said.
"I can't picture how 70 rubbish bins will go out on rubbish bin day in the location."
Cr Bell said the neighbourhood character was what she was most concerned about
"I'm all about diversity within the city and to have a number of different options available," she said.
"I believe this is definitely not in line with the character that our community is looking for with their vision."
Councillor Ian Ross also opposed the application - citing he didn't believe it was the type of development which was needed in Horsham
"It's the first of this type of development," he said.
"If we approve it will be impossible to stop any more because there will be a precedent set within the city.
"If it was spread out around the city I wouldn't have an issue with it."
The motion was moved with division - a formal count and recording of those for and those against a motion.
Cr Guilline, Cr Flynn, Cr Power and Cr Bowe voted for the motion.
Those against; Cr Bell, Cr Haenel and Cr Ross.
Did you know you can receive updates straight to your inbox? To make sure you're up-to-date with news from across the region, sign up below.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.