Message from the Mayor – 14 August 2019
Thank you to those who came to our information session on Tuesday to hear about the population study and housing strategy for Robinvale.
It was interesting to hear from Kevin and Ben, the consultants, and I hope you found their presentations valuable too.
Councillors got these two documents the same day as the community, and so we have only just started to analyse the findings.
What is clear though, is that having this information documented and with strong evidence will be crucial as we advocate for a better deal for Robinvale. These two pieces of work are closely linked and will be used together to improve housing, services and to ensure a better supply of labour for local industry.
The population study revealed an estimated population of between 7000 in November and 8800 in March each year – far more accurate than the ABS estimate of 3359.
Banking information was key to this. Consultants also looked at Lower Murray Water data, and spoke to 13 local service providers. For example, supermarket data showed a grocery spend much higher than you would expect for a town of 3359.
This is a critical piece of work that we will use as we look for a better deal for Robinvale, for health, education, housing and all kinds of other services. It will also be made available to all Robinvale service providers to seek better outcomes too.
The housing strategy delved a bit deeper into the current situation and possible solutions.
It confirmed something we all know – there is no magic bullet to fix the housing problems in Robinvale. But, the document has provided five clear strategies to ease the pressure.
These are to address immediate housing shortages; lobby State Government, including around land rezoning; developing a housing prospectus to attract investment; government and community agencies developing housing projects; and improving livability.
Practical solutions include developing low-cost worker accommodation to attract people from overcrowded rooming houses.
It suggests accommodation for itinerant workers that could be adapted out of season for other uses, and rezoning selected Farming Zoned land for extra Residential Zoned land for development.
It also suggests looking into the planning rules so that Council can better support farmers trying to build on-farm or in town accommodation.
The good news is that Council has already made a start on some of these.
We are seeking a ruling from VCAT on what is and isn’t allowed with on-farm accommodation. Farmers in the Robinvale area are increasingly willing to make the investment, and we want to make this process clear for all.
We’ve also been advocating to the State Government for change on various housing issues, including rezoning some sections of farm land to residential. Just last week we raised this with Victorian Regional Development Minister Jaclyn Symes and will be sending her further information.
As a Council, we will be looking at the housing strategy in detail, and then decide where everyone can have the most impact including the State and Federal governments and others. This will be an all-in effort.