Support for cutting red tape stymieing apartments on the main drag

The Wagga branch of the Housing Industry Association (HIA) has welcomed calls to relax residential building restrictions along the main street.

It comes after Fitzpatrick real estate director Richard Fitzpatrick and councillor Paul Funnell agitated for changes to council’s key planning documents to encourage more apartments along Fitzmaurice and Baylis streets. 

Wagga HIA branch president Glen Sewell said more housing in the heart of the CBD would be a departure from the norm, but had the capacity to “unlock Fitzmaurice Street”.

“Certainly it’s one form of housing that hasn't been achieved and is different to what we’re used to,” Mr Sewell said.

“Obviously people living there would expect it to be noisy at times, but that is not to say it shouldn’t happen.”

Fitzpatrick's estate agent Greg Howick urged council to rezone the commercial core to untangle the red tape tripping up would-be developments.

Mr Howick said regulations had prevented would-be developers building and selling apartments with strata title, which provides for individual ownership of apartments within a complex.

“You can build apartments above shops and lease them out, but when it comes to splitting them up and selling them off, that's not permitted,” he said.

The property valuer with 32 years experience in sales said new developments like The Mill Residence, which permitted individual ownership of apartments above shops, were zoned differently to CBD.

Councillor Rod Kendall was adamant council’s planning documents were not the cause of the developers’ headaches, but agreed the current review of the outdated Land and Environment Plan (LEP) and Development Control Plan (DCP) should consider more apartments along the main drag.

“Nothing in either of those documents says you can't strata title, they’re interested in the use of the building, not who owns which bits of the building,” Cr Kendall said.

“You can build apartments on top of shops on Baylis and Fitzmaurice streets, the restriction is the ground floor must be used for commercial purposes.

“There is some thought at present about encouraging buildings that are totally residential, which is why we do regular reviews; to fine-tune.

“If we get it right, everything can survive together.” 

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