8 June 2023

Tolland renewal on new Government's radar after Wagga visit

| Chris Roe
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Rose Jackson

NSW Housing Minister Rose Jackson hopes to move forward on the Tolland Renewal Project as soon as possible. Photo: Chris Roe.

Member for Wagga Dr Joe McGirr has welcomed NSW Housing, Homelessness and Water Minister Rose Jackson’s commitment to keep things moving on the long-promised Tolland Renewal Project.

Ms Jackson was in Wagga on Wednesday and met with local advocates at the Tolland Community Centre to discuss the current squeeze and the lack of social and affordable housing.

“Clearly with a change of government, we want to make sure it’s still full steam ahead,” Dr McGirr said.

“I’d previously met with the Minister in Sydney and I invited her to come to Wagga to emphasise the importance of the Tolland Renewal Project.

“Secondly, with winter approaching and housing and rentals being very tight, I wanted to ensure that we have the support services in place for people who are finding themselves in a homeless situation.”

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The plan to upgrade the ageing Tolland housing estate with a new mix of modern housing has been on the cards since 2020 and was described as a “long-term project that will be delivered in stages over the next 10 years” in an update from NSW Land and Housing Corporation (LAHC) in December last year.

Dr McGirr said it was a “solid discussion” and that Ms Jackson indicated that she would like to see the project accelerated.

“I think some important information came out of that about further communication with the community. I think she’s genuinely keen to see the project progress and clearly regards the project as important.”

The ambitious project is a partnership between state and local government and the private Argyle Consortium and comprises around “500 new mixed-tenure homes” with around 180 to be allocated for social housing.

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In summarising the approach, LAHC explained that the existing three to four-bedroom homes, in addition to many being over 40 years old, “are under-occupied and unsuitable for older residents”. Blocks will be resized and a variety of different styles of homes will be built to “suit different lifestyles as well as more environmentally sustainable homes”.

One of the major logistical issues is where to locate the estate’s current residents while the project is underway. LAHC stated emphatically that “residents are not being asked to relocate from their house” but said it would roll out a staged strategy over the ten years of the project. How the shuffle would be achieved in Wagga’s tight housing market remains unclear.

Dr McGirr said the current development approvals process needed to be reexamined to speed up the delivery of housing stock to regional communities.

“I’m getting a lot of feedback that rather than helping facilitate housing development projects, the planning process is actually doing the reverse,” he said.

“At the end of the day, housing supply is what’s needed to fix the issue and we really need to look at the role of planning in facilitating housing developments and not finding reasons to block them.”

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