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1 August, 2022

10 new houses for Gilgandra shire: GSC’s partnership with Inland Rail

Gilgandra’s Aero Park residential subdivision will gain 10 new homes as the result of a partnership commitment between the Gilgandra Shire Council (GSC) the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC).

By Emily Middleton

Inland Rail has agreed to sign long-term leases on the new homes, to use for employees working on the Narromine- to-Narrabri section of the network. These long-term leases have given GSC the financial assurance they required to spend around $5 million on construction of the homes.

When the inland rail construction has finished in the region, the homes will be made available for purchase or rent by local residents. Aero Park is a largely undeveloped residential subdivision on the western fringe of town, originally created to meet Gilgandra’s future housing needs.

“The subdivision was created a good number of years ago. It can fit up to 55 houses, giving us, I’d say, 40-years supply for residential development,” said GSC mayor Doug Batten.

“Inland rail was announced in 2017, and there’s only been real money for (the subdivision’s development) in the past five years.”

Roughly half of the blocks will be utilised as a ‘work camp’ for rail workers. This temporary accommodation will hold roughly 500 workers.

“These are predominantly self-contained. They’ll have kitchens, a gym, basketball court, that sort of thing,” explained mayor Batten.

“Work camps themselves don’t bring a whole lot because they’ll have catering teams to run their kitchens etc. But the opportunity is there for the town because they’re going to need some sort of time off or relaxation – whether it be come to the club for a meal, or a game of darts, bowls, golf, whatever, theres an opportunity there for it.”

The other half of the subdivision will have 21 councildeveloped blocks.

“On the southern side of the division, council will spend 12-months developing 21 of the residential blocks. In those 21 blocks, the proposal is that council will be building 10 homes, and inland rail have guaranteed to lease those homes off us for a period of five to seven years,” explained Cr Batten.

Essentially, 10 blocks will be developed into homes, and the remaining 11 will be put up for sale to people who want to build a house on them.

Last week, ARTC and GSC made an official announcement of the partnership at the Aero Park site.

“This housing project will position Gilgandra well to be a significant hub for professional staff or what some might refer to as ‘white collar roles’,” said mayor Doug Batten.

Inland Rail’s interim chief executive Rebecca Pickering said that Gilgandra put themselves up for the development, and presented a “pretty convincing case”.

“Gilgandra really put themselves forward, they’ve got a site here that is already well developed. They put forward a good proposal, something that is commercially sound from our perspective as well which is very important,” said Ms Pickering.

“So kudos to Gilgandra shire for having something ready to present to us, that meets our needs as well as the communities.”

Mayor Batten said that the shire wanted to do their part in helping the housing shortage in Gilgandra.

“Housing availability is already an issue in the community and increasing the housing stock reduces the competition with locals. There are numerous examples around the country where locals struggle to get housing when these major projects enter the community, and their arrival has not been planned. This project shows both ARTC and Inland Rail understand this and are committed to partnering with council to mitigate this situation.”

The new houses will be a mix of prestige and project homes, featuring four and three bedrooms, one duplex and a dual occupancy premise.

At last week’s July council meeting, GSC also comfirmed the mayor and general manager’s authority to sign the ‘Master Inland Rail Development Agreement Contract’ for the use (and new development) of council assets or infrastructure for the construction of inland rail.

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