There is just under two-and-a-half years worth of development-ready residential land in Warrnambool but a developer fears there may be even less.
Long-time developer Graeme Rodger said restraints on developers by the State Government, water authorities, councils and power companies meant they couldn't get land sale-ready quick enough.
At a guess, Mr Rodger said there could be as little as 100 lots in Warrnambool ready for development for potential homebuyers to choose from.
He called for the state government to create a specialised body to take control of planning for larger residential developments which he said had become a big strain on local governments.
A new council report into land supply in Warrnambool found there was 24.1 years' worth available - only 2.45 years of those were development-ready lots while 21.7 years worth of land was zoned residential but was yet to be fully developed.
In the past six years, the amount of available land has dropped from a high of 28 years' supply.
But Mr Rodger said developers were hamstrung by bureaucracy and banks in making that land ready for buyers to build on.
Mr Rodger said if Warrnambool had better planning processes, there would be three-times as much land available for buyers.
"We can't get the land titled quick enough," he said.
"It takes us probably five years to get land rezoned, and it can take us another six years to go from rezoning to a plan that has planning approval."
He said it would be ideal if Australia followed the lead of other countries where a specialised state government body took over the planning of larger subdivisions.
"We in the western region have the worst production rate of residential land, I think, within the state if not in Australia. We just cannot get it through the system," Mr Rodger said.
He said councils had too many other things to worry about to devote adequate resources to planning. "They're overstretched," he said.
The council report predicted Warrnambool's population would jump to 43,304 by 2031, and it needed to ensure there was enough land to cater for the increase.
Cr Peter Hulin told last week's council meeting that Warrnambool had "quite a supply" of residential land but he believed that it would be snapped up very quickly.
"Once it's discovered, people will be flocking to live in this city, especially the way technology is going," he said.
However, he warned people needed to be smarter about how they built so that the city's growth did not continue to encroach on farming land.
Cr Sue Cassidy said that if Warrnambool wanted to grow, it needed the land to be able to house residents.
"We all know that rentals are going fast and it is hard to get a rental in this city, so people are opting to actually build."
She said a recent report said Dennington was one of the fastest growing suburbs. "That's pretty exciting for our city to have that mentioned in the top 20," she said.
Mr Rodger said new requirements from the bank meant that it could be a two-year wait before a potential buyer could build a home on the land.
"We're losing people to this city because we cannot provide them with suitable residential land," he said.
He said the extra work imposed on subdivisions by authorities had added about $6000 to the cost of each block for a buyer.
Mr Rodger said people thought developers had "deep pockets" and "all the money in the world", but all they did was make a fair return on investment.
Mayor Tony Herbert said there were plenty of jobs in Warrnambool but very few options for people to live.
He said the biggest hold-up for developers were banks which were not handing out finance to developers like they used to, while mum and dad investors were also finding it hard to get finance.
Cr Herbert said Warrnambool was experiencing significant growth with a state government report predicting 3000 job vacancies in the city within three years.
He said it was difficult to attract people when they find it difficult to get somewhere to live.
"It's got the potential to slow our growth down," he said.
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