Warrnambool | A City for Living

Key Worker and Affordable Housing Project

Consultation Closed: Wednesday, June 12, 2024 - 5:00 pm
What we consulted you about

Take me straight to the survey

With the housing crisis adversely affecting Warrnambool including local organisations and businesses which struggle to attract essential personnel, Warrnambool City Council called for expressions of interest from community housing agencies to activate and deliver a key worker accommodation and affordable housing project. 

Following the EoI process, Council is now collaborating with a consortium headed by community housing agency Haven Home Safe.

Numerous socio-economic factors have triggered the housing crisis in Warrnambool. Key industries including healthcare, education, and construction, struggle to attract essential personnel, negatively affecting the community. The situation is exacerbated by over 400 long-term rentals operating as short-stay accommodation while a number of motels have closed. The following key statistics illustrate the depth of this problem:

•    Rental vacancy rate - 0.8% (healthy market rate - 4%);
•    Median rental price - $500 (average increase of $100 per week from 2021);
•    Total rental properties as a ratio of total dwellings (18% - significantly lower than the state average - 30%);
•    1/3rd of renters facing severe rental stress due to increasing rents;
•    Lack of key worker accommodation is having a negative effect on industries being able to fill positions; and,
•    Lack of local presence of community housing agency to prepare shovel-ready projects for the future.

Council's 2019 Social Housing Planning document found a housing deficit of 1,430 dwellings in Warrnambool, a figure projected to rise to about 2,810 dwellings by 2036 based on current housing growth rates. Even with the record 400 building permits issued by Council in 2022, there remains an urgent need for short to medium-term solutions to alleviate the socio-economic consequences stemming from the housing shortage.

Without a swift and substantial influx of housing the existing crisis will worsen. Ongoing advocacy efforts offer no assurance of housing supply through existing funding avenues, unless a shovel-ready project is introduced.

Council considered strategies to tackle the housing issue in the short to medium-term by making use of land owned by either Council or the Victorian Government. While activating Victorian Government land would be a time-consuming process, there is an immediate opportunity for Council to accelerate a key worker and affordable housing development on a section of the land in Harrington Road. This land was part of the buffer zone of the former saleyards, and this approach can be pursued concurrently with the development of a master plan for the entire area.

The idea of Council facilitating affordable housing solutions to address demographic issues and lack of housing in not new. Commencing in May 2013, the North Dennington Housing Affordability Program accessed a $2.95 million Federal Government grant (Building Better Regional Cities Program) towards construction of Coghlans Road and delivery of a housing affordability grants scheme (up to $20,000 per applicant) in the North Dennington Growth Area to low and moderate income families. The program concluded in 2017 with 50 grants disbursed to low and moderate income families, all of whom met strict eligibility requirements. This has been a successful project that has provided growth opportunities for North Dennington.

The current project aims provide a unique, innovative solution that will provide much needed rental housing to key workers and low and moderate income earners, who are also key workers for different industries in Warrnambool.

The project 

Warrnambool City Council will lease out around 15,000sqm of land abutting Harrington Road for a period of up to 25 years through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with a Community Housing Agency that will meet the following requirements:

•    Build a minimum of 50 self-contained units, preferably using prefabricated modular construction, with a mix of one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom units.
•    Units to be made available as key worker accommodation for organisations and businesses in the municipality and affordable housing using a 50/50 split.
•    Key worker accommodation will be allocated by the Community Housing Agency through an expression of interest from local employers in the municipality.
•    Affordable housing allocations will be done by the housing agency through established models.
•    The project will be fully managed by a Community Housing Agency.
•    Council will lease the land for an agreed term of up to 25 years. The final lease agreement period will be determined in conjunction with the Community Housing Agency and the funding agency.
•    The land will return to Council with all built assets disposed through sale or relocation, at the end of the project period, unless a future agreement determines otherwise.

Proposed concepts

Option 1 (below) 

Option 2 (below)

You can view a drive-through video of Option 2 below


Contemporary modular construction

Modern modular construction proposed for the project meets gold and silver standards for Liveable Housing Australia Performance Guidelines and achieves six to seven star natHERS energy ratings.

The following are the designs of the modules that will be included in the project:

•    Black Axon

•    Half Height Brick Axon

•    Timber Strapping

•    Vertical Custom

Proposed modern modular construction allows for fast-track delivery of comfortable. low impact living with sophisticated interior styling and detailing. Suited to the local climate, the homes will be environmentally sustainable and have a life beyond traditional brick-mortar constructions.

Frequently asked questions.

Council wants to know what you think of the proposal. Have your say by completing the survey below. You can also indicate whether you would like to attend one of the focus group consultations. Focus group dates and times are: 

June 4, 10am to noon, Mack Oval Pavilion

June 4, noon to 2pm, Mack Oval Pavilion

June 5, 5pm to 7pm, Friendly Societies Park, AL Lane Pavilion

June 6, noon to 2pm, Reid Oval Pavilion

June 6, 2pm to 4pm, Reid Oval Pavilion


For more information or to discuss the project please email Ashish Sitoula, asitoula@warrnambool.vic.gov.au