Housing supply lags in Wellington Shire

Wellington Shire Council offices.

David Braithwaite

WELLINGTON Shire Council is examining issues preventing the supply of residential land in key townships across the shire.
Council has outlined its priority strategic land use planning projects for the 2021-22 financial year, and will implement the recommendations of residential land stocktake workshops and its growth management and economic development strategy.
Two residential land stocktake workshops were held online in May, involving councillors, local developers, builders, real estate agents and statutory authorities.
The workshops looked at infrastructure, land development economics and other issues preventing the supply of residential land in townships across the shire.
The result has been a decision-making framework — a set of actions and guidelines for council when considering support for infrastructure development.
The framework will also consider a range of tools and incentives which may help bring in more well-located residential land to market.
Other major projects will be the contributions mechanisms for the Maffra Structure Plan and infrastructure in north Sale development areas, and Yarram and industrial and residential growth study.
Following a six-week public exhibition for a discussion paper in March and April, a draft Maffra Structure Plan is expected to be released for public comment in the second half of 2021.
Council is working with developers to finalise an agreement to fund infrastructure works in the north Sale area.
And its strategic land use planning team will also work on the Wurruk Development Plan, West Sale Industrial Land Technical Studies, a review of RAAF Base, East Sale, planning controls, updating flood mapping and planning controls in the Wellington Planning Scheme, and environmental audit overlay.
In addition, council officers are working with the statutory authorities to address planning issues relating to industrial land at West Sale, before finalising reports.
The final Port of Sale Precinct Masterplan is expected to be presented to council for approval in August.
While local planning for future growth is underway, state Nationals leader Peter Walsh says people in regional Victoria will continue to be priced out by pandemic-driven property and rental price rises — unless the rules change to open new housing lots to the market.
New data from CoreLogic shows the median house price in regional Victoria has risen to $514,668 since June 2020 – an increase of 15.6 per cent.
Meanwhile, rental availability has plummeted, with Latrobe-Gippsland down 49.6 per cent during the pandemic.
But median rents have surged in the same time.
Instead of paving the way for Victorians to own their own home, Mr Walsh said the state government’s new taxes would “price them out altogether”.
He said a new Windfall Gains Tax that would add millions to the cost of developing rezoned land could push up the price of individual lots by up to $25,000.
“The perfect storm of sky-rocketing regional property prices, scarce rentals and low land availability is coming together to price first home buyers out entirely,” he said.
“Yet the Labor government still went ahead and axed the $20,000 regional First Home Owner Grant on June 30.”
Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows population migration to regional communities is now at its highest since records began two decades ago.
Melbourne lost 26,000 residents in 2020 alone — the highest net loss on record.
Mr Walsh said this movement could create more jobs and opportunity in regional communities, but the state government had “no plan” to capture the benefits of decentralisation.
“More and more, we’re seeing people choose to make the move out of the capital cities to our regional communities, but we need a plan in place to make sure all country communities benefit,” he said.
“The Liberal Nationals have put up a plan to fast-track 50,000 lots to market in rural and regional communities by supercharging the planning departments of our small councils and implementing reform to stop planning applications getting stuck on the minister’s desk.”