August 16th, 2021Housing policy but no quick fix on cards
HEPBURN Shire Council has included funding for a strategic plan into an affordable housing policy in its June budget but there will be no quick fix.
Safe Place Advocacy vice-president Mary-Faeth Chenery said the council would now put a contract out to tender for the creation of the plan – but that could take three months.
“It will take 12 months to complete the plan and it will then be open for community consultation, so we are looking at a long time. We are worried (about an actionable timeline) as the wheels of local government move at their own pace, and I understand that.”
Safe Place Advocacy is a passionate group of citizens aspiring to influence positive changes for social and affordable housing in Hepburn Shire.
Ms Chenery believes having a safe and affordable place to live is just the basic staff of life. “I am very fortunate that I have one, but I believe very much in trying to help others. I am not sure how housing evolved to become my issue, but I am happy to take my part in this.”
The group meets regularly with Hepburn Shire CEO Bradley Thomas, lobbying for changes they believe are achievable to meet the need for social housing in the shire. Safe Place has identified land and existing buildings that are suitable for social housing including Daylesford’s former police station and residence.Safe Place is also advocating for a change in the issuing of a secondary dwelling permit. “A secondary dwelling is a small dwelling, either detached or attached to an existing dwelling on the same lot. Council appears to have the flexibility to approve secondary dwellings such as a tiny home, caravan or granny flat. However, you are not allowed to live in them year-round, so we have people currently working on having this rule changed.”
Ms Chenery said the “tricky bit” was connecting services but it was achievable. “There are often power points on the exterior of a house, there are taps in the yard, and composting toilets eliminate the need for connection to sewerage. It’s just not that hard except for the will of councils and others who feel that this is not the way to go.”
Council planning permit policy stipulates that new residential housing developments need to allocate space for affordable homes to comply with inclusionary zoning.
Safe Place Advocacy has been pushing the council for any development with more than 10 lots to have affordable housing inclusionary zoning.
Ms Chenery said she recently spoke to someone looking to find housing for their daughter and family in Daylesford but at the time there were only two homes for rent in the town – with 350 homes on the short-term accommodation list.
“I can appreciate that people want holiday housing to come to, and Daylesford is the perfect place for that, but if it is at the expense of many people in the community, I think we need to find a middle ground,” she said.
Hepburn Shire Mayor Cr Lesley Hewitt said that affordable housing was a significant issue state-wide, and the shire was experiencing affordable housing shortages in both purchase and rental stock.
“Everybody knows that there’s difficulty finding affordable housing to either rent or buy right across the shire, and this is the start of some high-level work to try and do what the council can to impact on that situation,” Cr Hewitt said.
“The lack of affordable housing is having a significant impact on recruiting staff for key industries and businesses in the shire, with some businesses having to reduce their operating times and services offered.”
Macedon Ranges Shire Council does not have an affordable housing policy or strategy. However its planning scheme includes some local policy that encourages the provision of responsive and affordable housing and a diversity of lot sizes and styles.
These are designed to meet the requirements of all age groups, household types, lifestyles and preferences within the shire’s towns. It especially promotes a range of housing options to improve housing affordability in the larger towns, focusing on Kyneton.
Macedon MP and Minister for Regional Development Mary-Anne Thomas said the Victorian Government understood the shortage of housing was a real issue in many parts of the state.
“That’s why we have listened and are investing $5 million in new pilots in targeted locations to test solutions that might be applied in a range of other locations experiencing similar challenges. The government’s landmark $5.3 billion Big Housing Build will construct more than 12,000 new homes across Victoria – with a minimum of $30 million being invested in the Macedon Ranges for more social and affordable housing.”
Above, Safe Place Advocacy vice-president Mary-Faeth Chenery, Hepburn Shire Mayor Cr Lesley Hewitt and Macedon MP and Minister for Regional Development Mary-Anne Thomas
Listen to Carol chat with Mary-Faeth on The Local’s
podcast, Country Life at www.tlnews.com.au
Words: Carol Saffer | Images: Contributed