Virginia Hill Estate. Photo: CONTRIBUTED

OPPORTUNITIES for more social housing in Bendigo include a 40-unit complex in the CBD, a redevelopment of Virginia Hill and a reimagining of Golden Square to include up to 3000 more residents.

City of Greater Bendigo regional sustainable development manager Trevor Budge told a social housing forum this week the council “was working in this space” despite having no written strategy nor actions.

Mr Budge said he could identify three opportunities in the city, including visionary work that would use up large swathes of vacant land in Golden Square, create new housing and employment options in the suburb, enough to potentially accommodate 3000 people.

“Golden Square is a classic example of a Bendigo suburb, reasonably accessible to the city centre, reasonably good for public transport,” Mr Budge said.

There was a large area, about 13 hectares, of vacant land on Chum Street, and the other potential sites that could be used including the former site of the Laurel Street Primary School and the Golden Square Secondary College.

Mr Budge said the preliminary work included mapping and networking the opportunities with not for profit housing organisations and private developers.

“One of the critical things is to get employment into the area so people don’t have to travel to work,” he said.

“A five-to-10-minute walk to work is a much better model than having to travel 20 to 30 minutes in your car.

“If you don’t have a car, you can’t do that.”

Mr Budge said an example of the CBD suggested there was land available for social housing, and organisations willing to be involved in providing it.

He mentioned a project which was being led by a local church that could provide 40 to 50 housing units in a multi-storey development.

The Virginia Hill estate in Eaglehawk has recently attracted funding of $10 million to upgrade the 70 units and build as many as seven more.

Announcing the funding in July, housing minister Martin Foley said much of the housing at Virginia Hill had been built in the 1980s and was fold and run down.

“The upgrade will replace these ageing residences with modern, environmentally friendly housing better suited to local demand for affordable housing,” Mr Foley said.

Mr Budge said an indication of the scale of the social housing shortfall was that of 70 projects that the Department of Health and Human Services could be involved with, they funded only three.

“So there are 67 projects that are needed in regional Victoria that aren’t being funded,” Mr Budge said.

– Sharon Kemp