A housing development application for 14 unit-style semi-detached homes was rejected in a unanimous vote by Greater Bendigo City Council.
- Most of the properties on offer have been designed to share a wall, unlike independent houses on the street
- Councilors mentioned the need for additional affordable housing, but maintaining ‘neighbourhood character’ was a priority
- According to a housing support provider, 1,865 residents of central Victoria have accessed emergency housing in the past year
The California Gully application, which has 12 three-bedrooms and two two-bedrooms, was pushed back for several reasons, with councilors citing maintaining “neighbourhood character” as a major concern.
Most of the properties on offer have been designed to share a wall, unlike the freestanding houses on the street.
Bendigo Town Councilor Dave Fagg said there had been previous development applications for the lot of land at 25 Alliance Avenue and 26-28 Youlden Street in 2010 and 2014, as well as a six-unit permit that had expired.
Mr Fagg said it was disappointing that the request had been recommended for refusal. However, he accepted the council officers’ decision.
“The reason for my disappointment is that the town needs smaller developments like this that can fill vacant lots with unit housing that can accommodate Bendigo’s growing population,” he said.
“However, I think we can chew gum and walk at the same time. We can create infill housing while maintaining neighborhood character.”
Need suitable and affordable housing
Bendigo Town Mayor Andrea Metcalf said the application was also rejected due to additional concerns about amenities, some of the homes be adjoining and insufficient visitor parking.
Throughout the regular council meeting, councilors spoke about the urgent need for additional affordable housing options for the town.
“Because we need to have homes that are two-bedroom units; because we know we have a lot of households that only have one or two people living in [a two-bedroom] home.
“That was another reason it was also turned down. It didn’t provide a greater variety of housing offerings to our community.”
Council papers also revealed that soil test assessment found arsenic levels in parts of the site exceeded the residential threshold, which can be attributed to historic mining in the area.
However, the assessment concluded that the site was suitable for unrestricted residential use in its current condition, subject to recommendations.
The housing crisis remains a major concern
Housing support provider Haven Home Safe says 1,865 residents of central Victoria have accessed emergency housing in the past year.
With rental prices rising in the Greater Bendigo area and housing assistance funding declining following the end of COVID assistance funding, Support Services Manager Donna Gillard fears that without affordable housing Extra soon, the housing crisis will get worse.
“We will always have people who are homeless for various reasons,” she said.
“We are now experiencing higher costs for rental accommodation, and it’s just that it’s unaffordable for us.
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