24 May 2023

Wagga Council forging closer ties with builders to lay foundation for desperately needed housing boost

| Jarryd Rowley
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house under construction

Wagga Council has acknowledged the need for increased housing in the region by commissioning a quarterly meeting with builders to discuss key issues. Photo: Supplied.

Wagga City Council has committed to better engaging with local construction figures by conducting quarterly meetings to improve ties with the building sector.

The decision to introduce the quarterly meetings came following Councillor Richard Foley’s February motion for an audit of the council’s relations with the industry.

The audit saw a breakfast forum involving 50 of the region’s most influential construction industry figures.

The forum focused mainly on issues in the housing sector and what plans would need to be made for Wagga Wagga to reach the council’s 100,000 population target.

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Cr Foley said he was pleased with the council’s decision to seek consistent building figures and better industry relationships.

“I want to commend council for getting this going,” he said. ”It took a while but I am looking forward to this growing and hopefully becoming more successful with more interaction between industry participants with council so it doesn’t become a one-sided affair.

“I think we live in a very interesting time. I look forward to the building and construction industry becoming aware of this and hopefully turning up in greater numbers.”

Cr Richard Foley

Cr Richard Foley proposed an audit of the council’s relationship with local builders. Photo. Shri Gayathirie Rajen.

Local builder and president of the Australian Housing Association Tony Balding has commended the council’s decision to introduce the regular meetings.

“One of the biggest issues discussed at the forum was the lack of land supply in Wagga Wagga,” Mr Balding said.

“Wagga is well behind the target of what is needed for projected housing targets, [but] by having these regular meetings builders can express their concerns and hopefully some of the issues will be addressed.

“Obviously, the more conversation with council the better. If everything works out, meetings may become more frequent than once every few months.”

Despite the council’s efforts to better provide for local builders, Mr Balding believes there are still constraints on potential housing constructions, causing developers to second-guess whether to take on certain projects.

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“There needs to be a bit of an overhaul in the way that things are done,” Mr Balding said.

“There are limitations being implemented that go beyond local council to State Government, which include taxes on products and services, which leave some people scratching their head on whether they should or shouldn’t take on a job.

“It is a bit difficult when builders are having challenges put in their way, when realistically an expansion of three or four subdivisions needs to be worked on as soon as possible in order to meet the required housing demand.”

The first of the quarterly builders’ meetings was held today (23 May).

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