Mingenew Shire passes planning exemption for cyclone affected housing

Edward ScownThe West Australian
A Mingenew house badly damaged by Cyclone Seroja.
Camera IconA Mingenew house badly damaged by Cyclone Seroja. Credit: Supplied

In the four months since cyclone Seroja battered homes throughout the Mid West, the need for temporary housing has not diminished.

Scores of houses remain uninhabitable as their owners struggle with insurance companies to begin repairs. In the meantime, those affected must be housed some-where, often in temporary structures or caravans.

The Shire of Mingenew this week adopted a relief measure — an exemption from the approvals process for those seeking temporary housing on their properties.

It is modelled on a similar plan which the Shire of Northampton implemented in May.

Under normal circumstances, adding such a structure for longer than two weeks would require planning permission, which can be a lengthy process.

The successful applicant will be permitted to place a temporary structure, such as a donga, shed or caravan on their property for up to 12 months before being required to submit a development application.

Shire chief executive Nils Hay said there were 29 people in his shire who were displaced by Seroja, most of whom lived on farms.

“It’s really impacted our rural community,” he said.

“Most of those people have found other accommodation or are staying with family… but some of those arrangements aren’t ideal for 12 months.”

With a labour and materials shortage plaguing the region, Mr Hay said the recovery would be “as long as a piece of string”.

While he did not see the proposal as a silver bullet, he hoped it would remove one of the many hoops Seroja victims were still having to jump through.

“People who are rebuilding have better things to do than deal with red tape,” he said.

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