3 July 2023

Council introduces housing incentive policy to help ease pressure

| Sarah Martin
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DESPERATE to reduce pressure on the housing market, Cook Shire Council has adopted a creative policy that it hopes will provide incentives for land owners and developers to target the region.

Last week, councillors passed the Residential Housing Development Incentive Policy, which aims to ease current housing constraints, offer more suitable options, raise the quality of housing stock, and increase the rate base of the shire.

The policy proposes cuts to infrastructure fees for eligible developers and rates relief for home builders, with $250,000 in the pot for eligible builds.

Cook Shire mayor Peter Scott said the incentives were aimed at increasing development.

“The housing incentive policy is a real win for Cook Shire,” he said.

Under the policy, eligible multiple dwelling or dual occupancy developments could receive up to $35,000 in incentives, while single dwellings built for an owner-occupier on vacant land could receive up to $10,000 in rates relief.

The incentives come with strict criteria, and are available on a first-in, first-served basis, with a maximum of $250,000 available during the two-year policy period.

It was deemed a low-risk move by the council, Cr Scott said.

“The council undertook extensive consultation with stakeholders including developers, builders and other regional councils to better understand the barriers to development and what is needed to facilitate growth,” the mayor said.

“While many of the factors, such as material and transport costs, are outside of council’s control, one of the key issues raised was our infrastructure charges and poor understanding of our development application process.

This policy aims to address that by offering reduced charges and rates relief on new owner-occupied houses.

“We will also work to increase awareness of the development application process and the support available from council when people are going through that process.”

Cr Scott said although the council would be forgoing income in the short term, the long-term benefits to the community, economy and the increased rate base would benefit the whole region.

The policy will come into effect on August 1 this year and remain in place until July 30, 2025 or when the maximum cumulative incentive value of $250,000 has been reached.

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