WA Government’s $4 million social housing boost set to drive investment in Spencer Park

Sarah MakseAlbany Advertiser
Email Sarah Makse
Minister for Housing John Carey.
Camera IconMinister for Housing John Carey. Credit: Simon Santi/The West Australian

The WA Government will inject $4 million into social housing in Spencer Park to provide a shot in the arm to long-held plans to transform the underused Albany suburb into a major local centre.

The investment forms part of the Department of Communities’ Growing Spencer Park project which has been under development since 2016.

The project aims to improve the liveability and connectivity of Spencer Park by improving housing and infrastructure in the precinct around the Spencer Park Shopping Centre, including Spencer Park Primary School, Bellingham Street and Hillman Street.

Housing Minister John Carey made the pledge as part of a $20 million announcement on Tuesday to revitalise regional housing stocks in targeted suburbs in Albany, Geraldton and Bunbury.

Albany’s rental vacancy was the third-lowest in regional WA in July at 0.7 per cent.

The funds will be used to build new social housing, refurbish old properties, and build new roads to make suburbs more liveable.

Some public housing properties will be demolished to improve access and reduce the density of social housing in each of the suburbs, and there will also be landscaping and upgrades to roads.

City of Albany Mayor Dennis Wellington.
Camera IconCity of Albany Mayor Dennis Wellington. Credit: Laurie Benson/Albany Advertiser

A Department of Communities spokeswoman said the department had not yet finalised a timeframe for the Spencer Park works.

“The Department of Communities will work with the City of Albany and Great Southern Development Commission to finalise the works package and develop schedules and time frames for delivery,” she said.

“Investment is likely to include refurbishment of older social housing properties identified as untenable due to their age and maintenance needs, construction of new social housing for seniors, and landscaping to enhance the suburb.”

The spokeswoman said the funding aimed to drive investment in the suburb.

“The State Government will continue to assess future funding opportunities based on demand, economic factors, value for money and other government priorities,” she said.

“A key outcome from the regional renewal package by the State Government is to attract more private-sector investment into Spencer Park. Determining further costs to deliver the Spencer Park plan will need to be ascertained with the City, GSDC, private landowners and Department of Communities.”

City of Albany Mayor Dennis Wellington said he was glad to see the GSP plan get off the ground.

Shadow housing minister Steve Martin.
Camera IconShadow housing minister Steve Martin. Credit: Tom Shanahan

“Fortunately, with the budget process coming through, we can get those funds and we can work with the Government to make sure that we can get some reasonable development in there — it is just a win-win for everybody,” he said.

“We are going to need more to complete the whole program but that is going to be an ongoing issue. This is a good start and we just need to keep pushing it.”

Shadow housing minister Steve Martin welcomed the announcement but said the Government would be “playing catch-up”.

“We are in the middle of a skilled labour and builder shortage so I believe this will take some years to flow through on the ground.” he said.

“In the meantime I think there is a gap in their housing and homelessness strategy and that is the immediate needs to get people out of sleeping rough and paying regos so they can sleep in cars.”

The announcement comes as part of an $875m investment in social housing across WA including 275 new regional homes by mid-2023 and 150 new modular social housing properties.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails