A CONTROVERSIAL 52-unit Golden Point development will help ease Ballarat’s rising rental stress, according to its developers.
The Ethan Property Group’s Ashley Fenn said yesterday the Hickman Street proposal opposed by a local residents group was both “timely and needed”.
“In addition to helping mitigate further rises in rentals, the development will increase the diversity of accommodation options for renters which is currently dominated by traditional three-bedroom houses and less suited for young professionals or students wishing to attend the nearby University of Ballarat,” Mr Fenn said.
The plan includes three storeys and a basement carpark and is part of the National Rental Affordability Scheme helping middle to low-income earners find rental housing.
Mr Fenn said Ethan Property Group, one of Australia’s largest not-for-profit housing groups, focuses on affordable housing, which sits above government and community housing and slightly below private rentals in rent costs.
The group is currently providing 200 NRAS houses in Ballarat, mainly three or four-bedroom properties in Alfredton and Sebastopol.
About 40 are already tenanted, with a further 60 to 70 underway.
Mr Fenn said their average tenant income was just under $70,000, with NRAS renters not allowed to spend more than a third of their income on rent.
“We don’t want to put them up to fail.”
However, he said there was an urgent need for smaller housing in Ballarat, which would include the one or two-bedroom unit Hickman Street proposal.
Mr Fenn said a local real estate agent advertised the properties for sale and, if renters qualified under NRAS, they received a 20 per cent market rent discount.
“According to the latest REIV figures, the rental crisis in Ballarat continued to deteriorate in September 2012 with the vacancy rate tightening to 1.3 per cent, down from 1.5 per cent in August and 1.6 per cent a year ago.
“Indeed the latest Victorian Department of Human Services March 2012 Rental Report provided clear evidence of the city’s rental stress over the last year, with median rents for one bedroom units rising 7.1 per cent and three bedroom houses rising by 8.0 per cent.
“At the same time, City of Ballarat figures show the number of annual building approvals is 15 per cent lower than two years ago, with approvals declining for the second year in a row in the 2012 financial year.”
But Golden Point residents have claimed it is a “super overdevelopment” of a small residential street and would be a “social disaster”.
Sixteen rResidents have opposed the proposal, with 30 attending a mediation meeting with Ballarat City Council officers.
However, the University of Ballarat is currently also building an $18 million manufacturing technology training centre close to the development site.
The application will go to the council later this year.