New suburb would boost construction

Tamra CarrGeraldton Guardian
Brother and sister building duo Mariah and Manny McAullay welcome the idea of a new suburb in Geraldton.
Camera IconBrother and sister building duo Mariah and Manny McAullay welcome the idea of a new suburb in Geraldton. Credit: Tamra Carr/Geraldton Guardian, Tamra Carr The Geraldton Guardian

Geraldton tradies are hopeful for a “boom like they have never seen before”, if a proposed new suburb and international school in Moresby comes to pass.

Master Builders Association of WA (Mid West and North West) regional manager Paul Kerr said the idea had promise of revitalising Geraldton’s home-building sector, which had been spiralling downward since 2005.

“Geraldton has been suffering from a housing slump for several years and declining work levels have put builders under strain,” Mr Kerr said.

“We are interested to hear about preliminary plans for a new suburb, but the idea is many years from becoming a reality.

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“If it goes ahead, we look forward to a boost in work opportunities for local builders and subcontractors.”

Similarly, home builders Mariah and Manny McAullay were both supportive of the idea, which they described as a way to “rev up a slump of an economy”.

“Would be good if it happens to boost the economy a bit,” Mr McAullay said.

“They have got to employ local people to do the work though.

“It can be nothing but.”

The City of Greater Geraldton Council has approved a residential rezoning application lodged by Singaporean syndicate PIP Holdings and is awaiting the lodging of a structure plan, which could take up to two years to approve.

Mayor Shane Van Styn said the entire project could take between five to 10 years.

“And that’s a big if. It’s extremely early days and we’re not 100 per cent sure it’s even happening,” he said.

Mr Van Styn said there had been talk of up to 1500 houses being built around a residential school, which could grow the City’s population by 5 to 10 per cent, create a “boom” in the home-building sector and require more workers to move from Perth to Geraldton.

He said though the development would likely be marketed to the Chinese and include speciality shops to cater for the demographic, persistent talk of a “Chinatown” amounted to people getting ahead of themselves.

“The suburb would look similar to Wandina or Drummond Cove,” Mr Van Styn said.

“It’s no different to those big apartment towers popping up in Perth and being marketed to Asia.

“If it goes ahead, the (Singaporean) company will likely market the area to Chinese people who hold Australian visas for education and are moving towards residency.

“But we don’t know the details yet; the conversations are very early and there’s been no plan submitted.”

Mr Van Styn said although nothing was certain, the development ideas were positive measures.

“What we need is multiple irons in the fire,” he said.

“We need to be looking at tourism, at bringing people here for education, at lots of different things.

“We can’t just be sitting around waiting for something like Oakajee to happen.”

Housing Industry Association executive director Cath Hart also showed enthusiasm for the potential suburb.

“Pushing the button on such a large project would be a sign that confidence is returning to the local economy,” she said.

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