Lesley Hewitt

This is the first of a fortnightly column that will be written alternatively by your two Birch ward councillors, Cr Jen Bray and me.  We are writing these in addition to our monthly Councillor reports that detail our council work. These reports are presented at the monthly Council meetings and included in the meeting minutes.

The July Council Meeting is on Tuesday 19th July. There are several items on the agenda that have generated a lot of community interest. Theses include the proposed sale of the Rex and two planning matters: Torpy’s Lane, Glenlyon and 31 Houston St, Daylesford (formerly 70 Camp St). If you want to ask a question or speak to Council about these or any other matters, you need to let Council know by 10am on Monday 18th July. The Council Agenda and papers are publicly available on the Council website on the Wednesday prior to the meeting.

Census data has started to become available. Hepburn Shire’s population has increased by 8.3% since the last census – up by 1,277 residents to 16,604. The population increase is uneven across the Shire with the biggest increase being in Trentham (17.12%) followed by Daylesford (9.14%). Hepburn Springs population increase was 5.34%. Population increases have an impact on services (including schools, hospitals, water, sewerage, libraries and so on), infrastructure (roads, recreation facilities, etc.) and all of these require planning . The 2022-2023 Annual Plan and Budget give you the detail of what we are doing on this.

Social and affordable housing is an issue of concern for many. The Census show that whilst the median rent in the Shire is $295 per week, the number of rental properties has dropped from 1126 to 1004 (a decrease of 10.8%). On Census night 22.7% of properties were vacant. This month I attended the Safe Place community forum on social and affordable housing and also the Homes Victoria/MAV webinar on the Social and Affordable Housing Compact. This is a proposed agreement between state and local government about what each can do to address the problem. The message is that there is no silver bullet or short term fix. Addressing the problem requires considerable investment at all levels of government and revolves around increasing housing stock – building more houses, units, apartments – a variety of housing stock to meet a range of peoples’ needs. Home Victoria is aiming for 5% of available housing to be suitable for social housing. Currently this is at 2% in Victoria so there has been an under investment for many years. Council is looking at its role in the the area, which whilst limited to factors including planning and land use, has a part to play

Finally, I’m looking forward to seeing Borealis at Lake Daylesford. It starts tonight (Friday June 15th) and should be fabulous. I hope that you get a chance to see it over the next few weeks.

Please contact me on 0408793941 or email at lhewitt@hepburn.vic.gov.au about any ward or council issues.

Lesley Hewitt is a Daylesford resident and a Councillor for Birch Ward.

Councillor Columns will become a regular feature in TheWombat Post. We offer these spaces as an information channel from Council to the community. Councillor Columns are not subject to editorial review by our editorial committee but are published as we receive them from our elected Councillors.