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29 June, 2022

Bold move to help housing

IN a bold move to encourage construction of more housing and to stimulate the economy, Tablelands Regional Council has endorsed a new initiative that will waive or reduce infrastructure fees for some developments.

By Robyn Holmes

Bold move to help housing

It is hoped the move will particularly encourage construction of medium-density housing involving multiple dwellings to relieve the pressure on existing housing stock as people struggle to find a house to rent or buy. 

The Investment Incentive Policy could cost council up to $2 million over the three years of the program, but it is willing to forego the revenue if it encourages economic growth and relieves pressure on the housing market. 

Mayor Rod Marti said the policy was a “really, really good first crack at trying to turn things around” and encourage investment in the region. 

“It’s signalling our intent t as a council to get development happening, certainly in particular areas like housing,” he said.

Economic Development executive manager Angelo Finocchiaro told council the policy had the potential to “unlock” development and may even result in some projects being pushed forward. 

“It provides clarity for local industry, clarity for developers and hopefully it might unlock a lot of development that might have been marginal, with inputs rising, and potentially this might bring forward projects as well,” he said. 

“With major projects coming offline later this year – the roadworks between Mareeba and Atherton, and the hospital, it’s important that council consider how we continue that construction pipeline and this policy goes some way towards making sure that pipeline is there for the future – we not only create jobs but retain jobs as well.” 

A report to council revealed the local government area had experienced 7.3 per cent growth in 2020-21, however it noted that Covid and geopolitical tensions had impacted the economy and the broader community. 

“These impacts include records low vacancy rental rates, availability of affordable housing, high fuel costs, rising input costs, supply chain constraints, labour shortages and rising interest rates,” the report stated. 

“While most impacts are beyond the control of local government, TRC can remove barriers and create local conditions to make it easier for business and industry to create opportunities and respond to challenges.” 

The report also revealed council had approved no multiple dwellings in a 12-month period to April this year, compared to 152 new detached houses, and was well below the regional Queensland and the statewide percentage of medium and high-density housing options. 

“The TRC local government area has 7 per cent of dwellings as medium and high-density housing options compared to 23 per cent in regional Queensland, 24 per cent in Queensland and 27 per cent across Australia,” the report said. 

“This policy seeks to address this imbalance and provide affordable medium density housing options in medium density residential zones.” 

Under the policy, infrastructure charges up to $100,000 will be waived for developments that involve the construction of affordable medium density dwellings, strategically important industries or “catalytic” projects, which is defined as projects with a construction value of more than $5 million. 

The policy also requires applicants to preference local workers and local suppliers of good and services in their construction project.

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