Housing plan to keep rents down

Shannon BeattiePilbara News
Pelago West in Karratha.
Camera IconPelago West in Karratha. Credit: Tom Zaunmayr.

The lack of housing availability and rising rents in Karratha could become a thing of the past as the City considers an investment program worth tens of millions of dollars.

City of Karratha councillors passed a motion last week to develop a business plan which would look into the idea of investing between $20 million and $35 million to build houses and apartments in town. There are about 8500 residential homes in Karratha, but less than 1.5 per cent of those are available to rent or buy.

The lack of available homes has also caused rents to increase dramatically, with some areas, such as Millars Well, seeing a 27 per cent price rise.

Mayor Peter Long said the city had $60 billion worth of projects on the cards and as soon as the green light was given for the first one, 40 homes could go in a day.

“We want to get something happening as soon as possible so houses have been built by the time the projects come online,” he said.

“A number of small businesses have contacted councillors to say they’re worried because their staff are paying $300, which they can cope with, but if it becomes $600 it’s borderline, and if it’s more they’ll have to shut down.”

Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan said the factors affecting housing in Karratha were different from those in 2009.

“Through DevelopmentWA, the McGowan Government has ensured land supply is not an issue,” she said.

“DevelopmentWA and a private developer have 158 lots immediately available, capacity to create 470 lots in the short to medium term, and potential for another 2400 lots long-term.”

But Mr Long said because so many people were burned at the end of the last boom, investors and developers were not interested in entering the Karratha market.

“Even if we only build 10 or 20 houses, what we’re hoping is it will put confidence back in the market and inspire other people to build as well,” he said.

Mr Long said the City was not looking in to this as a money making scheme.

“We don’t want to build a house and then sell it for a profit, our aim is to keep the price of houses and the price of rents down,” he said.

The business plan would take the City at least six months, with development of housing in the area due to begin at least by the middle of next year.

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