A key worker housing project in Warrnambool which will create 50 new homes has cleared a planning hurdle.
The company behind the proposal on Morris Road said construction work could begin in the second half of next year once it received final planning approval.
Councillors voted 6-0 to approve the development plan for the 50-lot project of which 46 would be a mix of one and two-bedrooms dwellings with four larger blocks facing Morris Road for housing development.
Ballarat- based Elmstone Property Group director Stuart Benjamin said it had been in discussions with council for a decade about investing in Warrnambool, and had spent the past 18 months working on this project.
"Warrnambool is one of the most stressed housing markets in Victoria," he said.
"We're really keen to get on and actually build some properties to make them available to people."
Mr Benjamin said the homes would be available for rent with the company having no plans to sell them.
Bespoke designs for the dwellings would be done in the next six months and, if the company was successful in getting a planning permit, work would begin in late 2024.
The way the business operated, Mr Benjamin said, meant it was able to get a lot of housing into the market relatively quickly.
Subframe, walls and roofing would be pre-cut offsite.
"It's a bit more like something you'd see on grand designs. It's not done much in Australia but allows us to build a couple of hundred houses a year," he said.
"There's really hardly been any one bedrooms built in Warrnambool since the 1960s.
"One of the things we learnt in COVID was that one of the reasons we've got the housing crisis is because the housing density is decreased because less people are living in houses, wasting bedrooms.
"We're quite excited. We want to do a few more projects in Warrnambool."
Mr Benjamin said the company was already working on a 36-unit development for a key worker housing project in Horsham for the health authority to attract more medical staff.
Warrnambool's hospital has already highlighted how the housing shortage has hampered its ability to attract medical staff.
Mr Benjamin said it had taken the company a long time to get to this point but he praised city council staff for being proactive.
In approving the development plan at the Monday, October 2 council meeting, Cr Richard Ziegeler said the project would be another answer to the city's housing availability crisis.
"It's not everyone's cup of tea but it will suit a lot of people. And we do need the housing," he said.
Cr Max Taylor said amended plans had been submitted to the council in September reducing the number of dwellings from 58 to 46 and car parking space had been increased.
Cr Angie Paspaliaris said the development plan had attracted no objections when it went out for public comment but she was concerned about the lack of footpaths.
However, she said that was something that could be addressed during the planning permit phase.
Cr Ben Blain said there was a lack of diversity in Warrnambool's housing stock, and the project should help to ease some of the housing issues.
Cr Debbie Arnott said Warrnambool had a critical housing shortage and the city faced an "almost non-existent" rental market.
She said a development like this would help to ease the pressure.
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