File size must be less than 2Mb
You must have online publishing permission or full ownership of this image
File types (jpg, png, gif)
11 November 2020
By DEAN LAWSON
The go-ahead for a new multi-million-dollar housing development in Horsham North will hinge on how quickly a developer can obtain a council permit.
Elmstone Property Group director Stuart Benjamin of Ballarat wants to build 35 seven-star one-bedroom self-contained apartments on the northern end of Alexander Avenue.
But he stressed the timing of permit approval and subsequent signing of client contracts were critical to whether he pushed ahead with or abandoned the project.
Article continues below
He said first-home builders being able to tap into federal and state government incentives was integral to project success.
A $25,000 Federal Government HomeBuilder incentive program expires at the end of December. State Government $20,000 First Home Owner Grants are open until June next year.
“We need to have contracts before the end of December and we can’t sign any contracts until we have a permit,” Mr Benjamin said.
“The houses, drawn up by award-winning Porter architects, are particularly designed for first-home buyers or empty nesters looking to downsize. And the ability to do this for an average price of about $200,000 is unprecedented in the region.
“We’ve already been contacted by buyers who have said this will see them staying in Horsham instead of relocating towards Melbourne and allow them to get into the property market.
“At the moment prospective purchasers have an opportunity to tap into a $25,000 incentive from the Federal Government and a $20,000 first-home offer from the State Government. When you take off $45,000 it means most people are buying a house for much less than the rent they would be paying.”
Mr Benjamin, who has developed more than 2000 housing projects and been building across regional Australia for more than 20 years, is personally investing $5-million into the Horsham project.
In the past 12 years he has gleaned an acute understanding of the Wimmera through business activities and his role in Regional Development Australia. He has been a powerful and outspoken advocate for socio-economic growth progressing west of Ballarat and played key roles in renewable-energy, infrastructure and highway development projects.
Mr Benjamin said Horsham Rural City Council had been receptive to the project and he hoped for a green light at the newly formed council’s first general meeting on November 30.
“The council has been supportive and together we have gone through an extensive process to ensure the development complies with both state and local planning policies,” he said.
“It has already been approved by the Country Fire Authority, GWMWater and Powercor.”
Mr Benjamin was in Horsham this week as part of community consultation and noted that some property owners near the development site had questioned the demand for one-bedroom housing in Horsham, preferring to see four-bedroom homes on quarter acre blocks.
He stressed that extensive research showed there was significant demand for ‘smaller’ housing opportunities.
“We don’t spend millions of dollars without doing our homework,” he said.
“The Horsham council and Wimmera Development Association have both identified that one-bedroom housing is a major shortcoming in the market. Horsham has also been identified as being able to take advantage of government housing grants and considered a potential growth area for more modern styles of living.”
Mr Benjamin said areas of Horsham North also represented relatively untapped potential.
“When you look at a map of Horsham it really stands out as an obvious opportunity. It is well located with good services with excellent access to transport routes. It stacks up,” he said.
“We’re seeing a rental crisis in Horsham pushing young people out of town and this type of affordable development allows them to buy a house and establish roots in the community.
“With interest rates at an all-time low it presents itself as a win for everyone.”
Mr Benjamin said he was committed to using a Wimmera workforce on the almost 5000-
square-metre housing site where possible, with construction scheduled to start in 2021.
The entire November 11, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!