A Brunswick development by Nightingale Housing. Photo: CONTRIBUTED

INNOVATIVE housing provider Nightingale Housing is in touch with land owners in Bendigo’s CBD and has already examined the feasibility of nine sites to build a housing complex containing as many as 20 apartments.

Speaking to the Bendigo Weekly after a public information forum on Tuesday night, Nightingale director Andrew Maynard said half of those sites initially scoped were found to be feasible.

He said he was in touch with landowners to look at several other sites in Bendigo in the coming weeks and was meeting with local architects and construction companies that had come forward and expressed interest in being part of a Nightingale housing project.

Mr Maynard said demand for the apartments and the cost of land would determine the feasibility of the project.

The candidate sites include a former dance studio on the corner of Hargreaves and Mundy Street and the former Centre of Non-Violence in Forest Street.

Both properties are up for sale.

Another site that is marked as a candidate is the existing building that houses the City of Greater Bendigo’s planning, building and engineering staff on Hopetoun Street.

The council is hoping to move all of its employees to a GovHub to be built at Lyttleton Terrace by a private developer and the state government by 2021.

Mr Maynard said he and Nightingale supporters were “ecstatic” about the response to Wednesday night’s first information forum.

“If we have 20 people putting their hands up (to buy an apartment), we have a project,” he said.

Nightingale is also holding information sessions in Newcastle but Mr Maynard said the organisation was interested in only one regional project.

He said there were similarities between Bendigo and the northern suburbs of Melbourne where Nightingale had completed its first project and was creating others.

In both places, there was land that had been owned by the same family for decades, who felt attachment to it and did not want to cash in by selling it.

Mr Maynard said Bendigo was flat, like Melbourne, and development had dispersed leaving the CBD reasonably empty.

He said Nightingale was interested in contributing to a rejuvenated city centre in Bendigo, not supplying cheap housing.

“If you want cheap, you can live out of the city,” he said.

Nightingale would not compete on price but could bring prices below market by avoiding costs on marketing, display apartments and selling agents.

Mr Maynard said the organisation built sustainable housing that was cheaper in ongoing energy costs.

The model also put a cap on profits of 15 per cent, and placed a covenant on the price of resale to ensure affordability was passed on.

– Sharon Kemp