BUILDERS, real estate agents and vendors are bracing themselves for the effects of Mornington Peninsula Shire’s proposed Housing Settlement Strategy even before it is implemented.
The broad aim of the strategy now awaiting planning minister Richard Wynne’s decision, is to increase the minimum size of lots for subdivision up to 900 square metres.
This has meant that builders and developers, who previously would have been potential buyers of average sized 720-750 square metre blocks in Mornington, and particularly in the Dava Drive area, are now not interested because the blocks can’t be subdivided.
Real estate agents say this has removed a segment of potential buyers and further cooled prices in an already weak market leading to drops of 15 to 20 per cent in sale prices.
One seller in the Prince Street, Mornington area is reported to have watched as the house previously tipped to sell for up to $1.1 million fetched about $140,000 less.
The mayor Cr Bryan Payne said the effects of the proposed strategy, across all peninsula towns and villages, would be to reduce the number of houses being built, resulting in less “suburbia”.
The shire is campaigning against the introduction of mandatory three-storey height limits (“Seeing red over house heights”, The News 26/3/18).
The shire’s manager strategic projects Rosa Zouzoulas said the proposed neighbourhood residential zone introduced four new schedules affecting neighbourhood character and minimum subdivision size.
One established builder in Mornington, who asked not to be named to safeguard his business, said the shire’s push to retain the larger lot sizes was “killing the goose that’s laid the golden egg”.
“So many people are being caught up in this,” he said. “They’ve been waiting to sell their homes after many years and banking on strong demand and high prices and now that’s gone.
“The [shire] has pulled the rug out from beneath the local housing market.”
Tradies, building suppliers and apprentices on the peninsula could all be caught up in the downturn.
Malcolm Parkinson, of Harcourts Real Estate, said property prices in pockets of Mornington affected by the subdivision proposals had fallen by up to $100,000.
Mr Parkinson said it was possible to challenge a development refusal by the shire at VCAT, but this would mean a 10-month wait with no guarantee of success. “Everyone is standing back to wait and see what the planning minister decides,” he said.
Another long-standing builder, who also asked not to be named fearing a “backlash”, said he was “not buying any [properties] because we don’t know what is happening”.
“There’s a 50 per cent chance the [applications] won’t be approved and that’s creating uncertainty,” he said.
Rob Bowman, of Bowman Real Estate, Mornington, said property prices “certainly have come off at least 15 per cent” while the shire’s proposed minimum subdivision size remains undecided.
“We would normally send out emails to builders regarding properties coming up for sale and the phones would go into meltdown – that isn’t happening anymore,” he said.
“Everyone’s scared. The place is in limbo. The [proposed] planning policy is shabby and archaic and there’s been a lack of consultation.”
Ms Zouzoulas said “community stakeholders and interested parties had the opportunity to provide feedback on the proposed changes … of which subdivision was one possible change”.
She said planning update meetings were held for consultants and applicants, and that letters were sent out to alert them to changes.
Mr Bowman and the builders derided the value of the “stakeholder” meetings. “We got no word of them and it appears only certain people were invited and they were given very little information,” Mr Bowman said.