The state government will invest $2.7million to kickstart a crucial new housing development in Bordertown, in a unique partnership with the Tatiara District Council.
Renewal SA’s Office for Regional Housing will work with the council to deliver approximately 15 new houses within stage one of the new development, which will see up to 60 new residential allotments opened up on the town’s western edge.
The partnership will enable subdivision and delivery of civil works for stage one of the project, which is being developed on land that was purchased by Tatiara District Council earlier this year.
Renewal SA has committed to part-fund the civil works and construct at least five new houses for essential state government workers – teachers, health care workers and police – under the Regional Key Worker Housing Scheme.
Local businesses and investors will have the opportunity to acquire additional house and land packages utilising a procurement process aimed at aggregating demand and seeking to appoint a single home builder. This will allow all parties to benefit from economies of scale and a single, simplified delivery model.
Office for Regional Housing Director Matt Hunt said, by combining the demand for new housing from both the public and private sectors, builds will be more efficient and cost-effective.
“We know there are numerous medium sized enterprises in Bordertown that are crying out for more housing so they can attract the right sort of employees, long term, and continue the economic growth of the region.
“At the same time, the state government needs housing for essential workers and, with these new builds, will be able to release the houses it currently leases back into the extremely tight private rental market.”
The new houses are in addition to the 30 homes committed around the state as part of the Regional Key Worker Housing Scheme pilot project, including six in Mount Gambier.
“This is a perfect example of a project that aligns with government priorities, responds to the defined need for housing, will have a high impact on local economic growth potential and offers significant opportunity for the local building industry,” Mr Hunt said.
“Coincidentally, I grew up in the South East and I know that, while it’s a prosperous farming community, the persistently high construction costs and relatively low market values have led to a long-term underinvestment in housing – so we’re here to address that by bringing construction costs down through this ‘buying in bulk’ model.
“There’s potential for a mix of sale and long-term-lease outcomes on this site, which might also include community housing – there are lots of possibilities that we’ll match to the region’s real, long-term needs.
“The exact designs for the houses aren’t finalised at this stage – we’ll do that in consultation with council, local employers and government agencies – but we expect they’ll largely be two and three-bedroom homes.”
Minister for Housing and Urban Development Nick Champion praised the initiative.
“We established the Office for Regional Housing to tackle chronic regional housing shortages and this project shows how it can make a real difference for local communities,” Minister Champion said.
“We are delivering a much-needed opportunity for the private sector to boost their supply, while giving our teachers, police officers and health care workers somewhere to live.
“I commend Council for initiating the opportunity and the work undertaken to identify the needs of both sectors as we roll out our pipeline of housing initiatives across the state.”
Civil works are anticipated to get underway mid to late next year, with construction of houses commencing in 2025. Tatiara District Council will manage the construction of internal roads within the development. The land is already zoned for residential housing.
“Housing has been an issue for our district for many years,” Tatiara District Council Mayor Liz Goossens said.
“Our economy and population have grown but housing simply has not kept pace with that growth. Our unemployment rate sits just above 1%, which means our businesses must recruit staff from outside the district, but with a rental vacancy rate of 0.3% there is simply nowhere for them to live.
“Recognising what a barrier to our continued economic growth the lack of housing is, Council resolved to develop residential land in Bordertown and Keith. This partnership helps us go one step further, with a simple process to build homes at a lower cost.”
Tatiara Business Association chairman Daniel Staude said the lack of housing was an issue for most businesses in the district employing staff.
“In our own business, we could hire three more tradesmen right now. But when we recently had the opportunity to recruit a worker from Melbourne, we couldn’t get past the first hurdle – housing,” Mr Staude said.
“In the city, this wouldn’t even be on your radar but in the regions, it is the first thing on everyone’s agenda when they are looking for new staff.”
Mr Staude said he was excited to see the partnership try a new approach to create more housing.