Council Advocacy - Housing

Published on Tuesday, 28 November 2023 at 11:31:00 AM

We’re all aware of the widespread post-pandemic housing issues, with Council advocating for practical results from the beginning. Councillors are community members, living locally and very aware of community concerns.

One of the first actions, taken back in 2021, was work to provide a facility for short term workers accommodation. This was a temporary solution, giving some immediate relief for local business staffing needs. Wanting to find long term solutions, the Shire partnered with the Goldfields Esperance Development Commission (GEDC) on the Workers Accommodation Study, delivered in mid 2022.

Keeping in mind that accommodation is a State responsibility and the Shire's role is to advocate and provide the environment for effective results, the primary focus of this Study was to explore land that Council had access to, that it could be involved in developing for workers accommodation. The Study identified opportunities for flexible worker housing solutions, able to switch to other uses as required; work to access funding is ongoing.

This Study also highlighted the need for better understanding of the entire regional land and accommodation situation, now and into the future. This need was met, again in partnership with GEDC, with the recent Esperance Land, Housing and Accommodation Study. With this second, more detailed Study, the Shire delivers a fantastic resource enabling Council to better advocate on behalf of the community, and give private business and all levels of Government an understanding of the accommodation needs and opportunities across industry and community sectors. It facilitates work to meet the needs of current and future residents, visitors and short-term workers. This is not all about building 4 x 2 houses, as data on current and projected demand for backpacker, tourist and aged accommodation, high end hotels, and lifestyle villages makes clear. This informative Study is available to view and download on the Shire website here, and with easy to absorb information points and tables, is well worth a read.

Other actions Council have taken to help alleviate the housing situation are the 2022 Holiday House Review, and the Tiny Houses on Wheels Local Planning Policy.

The Holiday House Review called for feedback on holiday homes in our area, with strong pro and con sentiment received. Results from that consultation were the addition of a Code of Conduct to holiday accommodation Management Plan requirements, and a planned proposal for holiday home approval renewals (one year after initial approval then every four years), currently being considered by the Minister for Planning. The Tiny Houses on Wheels Policy was an Australian-first, has drawn significant interest, and will have a positive effect on our region.

The Shire is mindful of its own impact on the local rental market, moving to reduce the effect of new staff with the purchase of staff housing, and by building units on Shire owned land. These properties will be primarily for Shire use, but may be available to the wider market in the future.

Most people locally are aware of Flinders Estate, between Castletown and Bandy Creek – this a long-term Shire project to deliver residential land, and is one of the last remaining large scale areas currently available within the Shire for residential expansion. As with most residential land, lots are released in stages - the most recent, Stage 4, was redesigned before release to provide cottage lots of between 230 and 330 square metres, an option not already available in Esperance. Stage 3 of Flinders Estate is also underway, and will deliver lot sizes of around 800 to 1000 square metres.

Senior Shire staff also continue to advocate on housing, most recently to Development WA for some larger lots of land held by the State Government to be developed as residential areas for affordable or community housing needs.

Our community can rest assured that Shire and Councillor efforts for on this topic are ongoing, taking advantage of every opportunity to improve the situation.

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