Future growth is focus of council

Sale library. File photo

Josh Farrell

Council has been actively researching ways to keep up with housing demand within Wellington Shire in recent months.

The report that was tabled at last week’s council meeting explored ways for Wellington Shire to prepare the municipality for growth and utilised two workshops to explore possible ways of preparing for the rapid growth that is expected over the next two decades.

Real Estate Institute of Victoria chief executive officer Quentin Kilian spoke of how policy and framework can assist in the growth of real estate when he took on the role.

“There is much to do to ensure a better public policy and regulatory framework for all participants in the property industry during ever-changing market conditions and a sometimes complex operating environment.” Mr Kilian said.

Wellington Shire Councillor Gayle Maher spoke when the policy was tabled at last week’s council meeting.

“Council has recognised there is a critical housing and rental shortage within Wellington Shire,” she said.

“Mesh Planning were the consultants appointed to undertake the review of land supply within the shire.”

The report notes that the shire’s economy is mainly based around its natural resources and commodities giving a diverse employment base.

Council has noted that it is frustrated it has been unable to accommodate interest that is being shown in the shire.

Planning for rapid growth in the shire poses a number of challenges and the report notes these as infrastructure coordination, funding and delivery problems and understanding of the ‘market’.

Real Estate Institute of Victoria president Adam Docking agrees that council can work with infrastructure to assist the property market.

“If they want to do things they need to look at the infrastructure, that’s what they can do to better prepare the property market,” he said.

A decision was made by council to take a proactive role with forward funding key infrastructure items in urban growth areas, and for these costs to be recovered from developers as development progresses.

The plan has been created to provide a long term view through to 2041 and will utilise short-term actions and providing long term strategic land use direction.

“Engagement was undertaken at the coalface which included real estate agents, developers, our state government agencies as well as our councils officers,” Cr Maher said.

“Conversations were frank and all feedback was considered.”

It is expected that the population within the shire will grow to 49,000 by 2036 showing the need to prepare for this rapid growth.

The report has put forward four principles to guide the council as it plans for the future for the region.

The principles are to strengthen the economy, promote a healthy environment, develop sustainable communities and deliver timely and accessible infrastructure.

Within the report it looks at specific towns within the region and growth descriptors for what is expected in each.

Sale: Proactively encourage and facilitate opportunities for major-scale developments in areas identified for significant growth.

Maffra and Stratford: Support proposals for medium-scale growth consistent with local plans.

Rosedale Yarram and Heyfield: Support small-scale residential, commercial and industrial development and change.

REIV president Adam Docking agrees that these towns that surround regional centres are vital when it comes to preparing for growth and assisting young people into the market.

“A lot of young people are moving out of the hub of the region, instead of being in the hub of Sale they move out to areas around it,” he said.

The report acknowledges specific parts of the area surrounding Sale that restrict the ability for it to grow – these include the influence of the Thomson River, the flooding creek and the Macalister irrigation district in defining the westerly extent of the of the urban part of Sale.

The shire will be seeking to take the approach that all of the towns within the region will compliment each other as opposed to competing for resources.

Another challenge that is posed to council is that not all of the land will enter the market at the same time or in a predictable way.

Some of the influences include: landowner preference and motivation, whether the land can be serviced, whether there is a market for the land, whether the subdivision is feasible and the impact of fees and charges.

It is believed one of the greatest challenges for developers is drainage and assistance from council will help them overcome this potential hurdle.

Wellington Shire council will utilise framework created by Shepparton City Council to help council officers work through procurement and a number of principles for the officers to abide by.

“It is a policy that forward funds key development infrastructure that helps develop green field sites across its shire,” Cr Maher said.

“This is certainly an opportunity that we as planners and developers may also welcome,” she said.

The Residential Stocktake & Facilitation Strategy report can be found on councils website for those who want to understand how this new report will impact them.