Goulburn Mulwaree Council (GMC) has a full agenda in 2019, planning for the strong residential and rural real estate demand, and taking advantage of upward trends in commercial and industrial land sales. It’s also focusing on providing amenity and facilities for ratepayers, with several new initiatives in the works.
Aside from reviewing and updating older strategies and policies recently, it’s also putting planning in place for new residential subdivisions in Goulburn and Marulan. Strong growth in all real estate market sectors not just over the past 12 months, but the last 5 years or so, are good reasons for GMC’s focus on the future.
One of the priorities in 2019 is completing the Urban & Fringe Housing Strategy which plans ahead for the next 20 years.
“The strategy has looked at future residential land releases including medium density, infill housing and rural residential. It’s on public exhibition now until 22 February and community input is invited,” GMC General Manager Warwick Bennett said.
“Goulburn, in particular, is experiencing considerable growth in the apartment market with four apartment blocks under construction. As part of the review of this strategy, council will look at how far we will allow apartment buildings to be developed, including height. Further infill housing is being examined as council seeks to encourage a more vibrant, people-focused CBD, as well as varied housing options for the community.”
GMC is also putting the welcome mat well and truly out for new business, aiming to support industrial and commercial growth in Goulburn.
“Council has shown recently that it is open to financially supporting employment-creating-business moving to Goulburn,” Mr Bennett said.
“Part of council’s decision was to provide financial business incentives to a local business of over a $1m on the condition that in excess of 70 per cent of the organisation’s workforce will reside in the Goulburn Mulwaree LGA.
“We’ve designated a specific role of Business Development Manager. The focus of this role is to actively seek out and liaise with new business opportunities and to provide a conduit between the bureaucracy of council to ensure that we remain easy to do business with. We are having considerable success with new and relocating business, and when considering the enquiries we’ve had in the early weeks of this year, I expect this to continue throughout 2019.”
Heritage remains a visible issue for ratepayers with the encroachment last year of an apartment development on a historic chapel cited as the need to examine how Goulburn’s heritage will be preserved as demand for residential development close to the CBD increases.
Mr Bennett points to the recent adoption of the council’s Heritage Study Review. GMC is also taking a more proactive approach to ensure Goulburn’s heritage buildings are “maintained, restored and kept for future generations”.
“Council has agreed it will provide financial assistance to upgrade the facades of [heritage] buildings and keep our emphasis on those great buildings, rather than just preserving everything,” Mr Bennett said.
“…Council is also looking to lead by example as seen with the adaptive reuse of the Old Town Hall for the Goulburn Performing Arts Centre (GPAC).” Construction of the GPAC is expected to begin in July 2019.
The GMC heritage review recommended, among other things, the appointment of a heritage officer as a medium priority (1-4 years); a move that would allay concerns of local heritage groups. While not committing to the appointment in the shorter term, Mr Bennett said, nevertheless, heritage conservation remained a high priority for council and that a heritage officer, either as a staff appointment or a contract position, “will happen”.
As well as planning for population increase, council has also been improving amenity for current ratepayers. In fact, visible projects like the Wollondilly Walking Trail, the Adventure Playground in Victoria Park and CBD enhancements have been well received.
“Council has spent over $1m per each year over the past four years on the CBD upgrade, and will continue the development with further landscaping including replacing the centre concrete median strip with a row of trees,” Mr Bennett said.
As the population drift continues from the Southern Highlands with new residents looking for affordable housing markets close to the Hume Highway and Sydney, council has been planning for increased development in its towns and villages. Marulan to the north of Goulburn is the fastest growing area in the LGA.
“Council has recently approved a new 500 lot subdivision at Marulan, and within our Housing Strategy, we are looking at rezoning more land for both rural residential and medium density living,” Mr Bennett said.
A strategy for rural development will begin later this year.