23 March 2023

Darlington Point housing subdivision offers hope as rental vacancies hit zero

| Oliver Jacques
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Councillors in hi-vis looking at housing plans

Murrumbidgee Council project manager Ray Davy shows councillors the subdivision details. Photo: Supplied.

Murrumbidgee Council has announced work has commenced on a new housing subdivision in Darlington Point, offering some hope for a town that doesn’t have a single rental vacancy.

The new works, on the centrally located Young Street, will comprise 55 allotments, ranging in size from 725 square metres to 1052 square metres.

Murrumbidgee Council’s general manager John Scarce said the project had the potential to attract new families to the area, bringing economic benefits for local businesses, schools and other service providers.

“Locals may have noticed action at the Young Street site, with preliminary works started. The first stage of the works includes survey setout and excavation for the road network. This phase also involves planning for the procurement of sewer and stormwater material,” he said.

“Residents will see extensive excavation work as the project progresses with public utilities, such as water, sewer, electricity, gas and roads, to be installed in the coming months. The construction project will mean increased trucks and machinery on local streets so we’re reminding people to stay alert and keep themselves and their families safe.”

READ ALSO New workers in Riverina left with nowhere to live as rental vacancies hit record lows

Tania Stone, president of Darlington Point Business Connect, spoke about the news of the new subdivision on behalf of several of the peak body’s members.

“This could be a great development for Darlington Point and is very much needed, however it should have been started many years ago,” she said. “The community will not see any direct benefits from this development for another year or two at least which does not solve our current housing problems. Hopefully, council is also planning now for the requirements of additional development of infrastructure to support the future increase in population such as a long day care centre and additional doctor/medical facilities and need for an ambulance station.”

Region has written a series of stories on the ongoing housing shortage in the Riverina. Nowhere is this more acute than in the town of Darlington Point, when as at Tuesday 21 March, not a single rental vacancy for the town was listed on the website Domain. Ms Stone said businesses, teachers and families were severely impacted by the town’s chronic housing shortage.

“When businesses do find workers and they need to move to the area it is almost impossible to find accommodation for them … several of our teachers travel from surrounding towns to work at the Darlington Point school. Another family who has recently moved to the area has had to move in with her sister due to the lack of housing and they are currently housing two families in a two-bedroom home. The local school is experiencing families having to leave town and remove their children from the school because they can’t find suitable housing. Housing that does become available is often unaffordable because landlords are renting to farms or solar farm workers and making more money by charging rent per person … people wanting to rent long-term are priced out.”

Griffith Real Estate’s Lily Fedrigo, who manages tenancies for the Darlington Point area, said things have been really tough for newcomers for some time.

“There’s very few properties for rent; I’ve only had two recently and they’ve both been leased. There are none at the moment. There is one other that may be coming up in April,” she said.

Nathan Thomas outside house

Real estate agent Nathan Thomas says the rental market across Griffith and surrounding towns is dire. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

Ms Fedrigo said things weren’t much better in Griffith, half an hour away, where there’s been a sharp drop in the number of available rental properties since the start of the year. She urged newcomers to have all paperwork and references ready and to pre-apply for properties before moving to the Riverina.

The new Darlington Point subdivision therefore can’t come quickly enough. Murrumbidgee Council has released a draft Development Control Plan for the project, which sets out the proposed guidelines for properties in the subdivision for public exhibition. The plan can be accessed on council’s website, Facebook page or at any council office. Submissions will be received up to 5 pm on Friday 31 March 2023.

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