CITY of Whittlesea residents will have more time to discuss a proposal to lease vacant land in Wollert for an affordable housing development through further community engagement.

At the most recent council meeting, administrators resolved to conduct further community engagement on the proposal in 2022.

The proposal being considered is to lease land at 1F Ashline Street in Wollert for an affordable housing development.

A petition, started by a resident who lives 900 metres from the proposed five-acre development site and says the development would devalue their property, attracted thousands of signatures, and sparked debate on social media.

At the September council meeting, council administrators resolved to lease land to a community housing organisation for a 50-year term, after a council report showed that demand far outstriped supply for affordable housing in the municipality, and the gap would continue to increase with the CIty of Whittlesea’s growing population.  

Chair administrator Lydia Wilson said while there had been extensive online engagement conducted, COVID-19 restrictions had limited the opportunities for community conversations and in-person forums.

“We’ve received a large volume of feedback so far and we’ve heard our community’s concerns and need for more information about the proposal,” she said.

“We want to make sure we give everyone who is interested every opportunity to raise any concerns and have their say on the proposal before council makes a decision.”

Council hopes to ensure the proposal is clearly outlined, to hear from housing providers and other experts in the field and to respond to any queries or concerns that residents might have.

Ms Wilson said council was aware that affordable housing was much needed and a priority for many agencies and members of the community.

“Our research shows that more than 10,000 households in the City of Whittlesea are suffering from housing stress, which means they are spending 30 per cent or more of their income on rent or mortgage repayments,” she said.

“There is an urgent need for 3800 additional affordable homes within the municipality.”

Opportunities for the community to have its say and participate in consultation on the proposal will be announced in the new year.

To follow the project online, visit engage.whittlesea.vic.gov.au/affordable-housing.