As Griffith continues to experience crisis levels of housing availability, demands for answers continue to get louder.
Griffith City Council (GCC) have responded to concerns raised by the Griffith Business Chamber (GBC), and say they are “actively” encouraging more housing development, and go on to outline further initiatives.
The Area News approached Griffith Real Estate agent Nathan Thomas, and President of the Business Chamber Paul Pierotti to find out more of the housing crisis and whether Griffith City Council is adequately addressing the issue, in light of the recent submission to council from the (GBC) addressing conduct, and council’s response.
The GBC submitted their concern regarding housing:
GBC has for many years made it clear to GCC that Griffith is struggling with a housing land shortage in desirable suburbs, and a significant shortage in housing hindering population growth (between 2006 and 2016 – 7.5% (average) pop growth down to 2017 – 0.9%). This is directly attributed to shortage of housing.
The ‘knock-on’ effect has resulted in a rental shortage which has caused significant increases in rental prices…
Council responded stating they have “actively encouraged more development and worked with developers to strive to provide more housing in the City”.
They also name a number of initiatives Council has introduced, including:
Mr Thomas read the GBC submission to council regarding housing and Council’s response and has said he can sympathise both with the comments from the GBC, which he believes to be accurate, and yet completely understands the Council’s response.
“The challenge is, for me, working with developers and people looking for accommodation,” Mr Thomas said.
Griffith Real Estate also provided the following figures to illustrate the dire need for housing.
As it stands, one real estate agent is showing four rental homes with an average of 33 people (or tenants) booked in for a viewing, and an average of 132 people unregistered.
“There’s no doubt we’re lacking opportunities in purchasing and significant issues with the rental market,” Mr Thomas said.
When asked what he tells people who are looking for a home to rent or buy, Mr Thomas said:
“We tell them to look at every opportunity; certainly be flexible; accommodation first and all the things you’re looking for in a property have to come second.”
Mr Thomas said that people are paying more to stay in their existing property as there is a fear of being out of their current property, and knowing there is very little to choose from.
“They are accepting rental increases on existing properties,” he said.
“I don’t disagree with [Council’s] response, but it’s not working in practice as effectively as these statements make out.
“It’s just not happening fast enough and there are significant hurdles that seem to be introduced by Council – it’s not a smooth process and creates delays.”
Mr Thomas said Lake Wyangan is a great part of town to develop for future properties, and believes Council is doing a “very good job” in planning.
“Lake Wyangan gives people choice,” Mr Thomas said.
Whereas Mr Pierotti argues Council has not adequately addressed the GBC’s concern, stating it as “dismissive”.
“What they’re saying, addressing the issue, clearly hasn’t worked,” Mr Pierotti said.
“If that is their justification, their standards are far lower than what we believe they should be – it’s not satisfactory.”
He suggests Council is “marking their own homework” in their response to GBC’s submission, and said their planning for the housing shortage is “too little too late” and that they have “exacerbated the problem.”
Mr Pierotti said that Council’s inaction or “dismissal” of concerns is an example of their “appalling inability to be able to have absolutely transparent communication with the community.”
Mr Pierotti and Mr Thomas both agree that a consultation is necessary.
We spoke with Mayor John Dal Broi to ask why Council had last night voted down to allow a developer to build on Lake Wyangan.
“We received an offer from a developer, but Council decided some of the expressions of interest we’ve received some months ago were more attractive,” Cr Dal Broi said.
The Council is now looking at other avenues to put the land out there to be financially attractive to individuals.
“We want to try and convince government to assist us with some funding which will allow us then to put the land on the market at a cheaper rate, a more attractive rate for individuals, particularly for first home buyers,” he said.
However, Mr Pierotti has said developers have withdrawn in the past because “Council is too difficult to work with”.
In response, Cr Dal Broi has suggested Mr Pierotti is “being negative” about housing in Griffith – and the other areas of concern the GBC has addressed.
“He’s put a code of conduct on myself and [General Manager] Brett Stonestreet and we don’t know what for,” he said.
Cr Dal Broi said that Mr Pierotti needs to “put up or bloody shut up”.
Cr Dal Broi has since asked Mr Pierotti to step down from his position as President of the Business Chamber.
While you’re with us, sign up here for your four week free trial to The Area News.
In the meantime you can sign up now for our free weekly newsletter.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.