A housing development 16 years in the making, soured by a bitter feud before being stalled for years by bureaucracy, will finally go ahead.
Residential blocks in the significantly downscaled South Jerrabomberra estate, on land known as Tralee, are set to hit the market.
Village Building Company has development approval for the first stage of more than 600 homes, with a total of about 1200 planned.
The plans include 318 individual housing lots and 312 townhouse lots. In the first release, 75 single residential lots will be sold.
Twenty blocks will be on sale to the public for between $300,000 and $400,000, ranging in size up to about 700sqm. A further 30 blocks will be sold to stakeholders of Village Building Company.
It’s the second time blocks have been offered for sale. In 2016 Village Building Company had in-principle support for the community on the border of ACT and NSW, however stakeholder negotiations broke down and buyers were offered a refund. The 146 people who purchased blocks and were subsequently refunded had first option and 25 chose to buy in again to the development.
South Jerrabomberra is situated on NSW land on the border with ACT, next to Hume industrial estate. The entrance road will be off Tompsitt Drive, Jerrabomberra, past a newly announced regional sporting facility. Eventually, the estate will have about 4000 people living in it, a cafe is planned for a restored old woolshed, and residents will have easy access to the nearby reserve for outdoor activities like bushwalking.
It was the vision of Village Building Company’s founder Bob Winnel almost two decades ago to build 7500 homes on the site. But the Canberra Airport pushed back, saying the location of the homes would stymie the airport’s growth.
What ensued was one of the most bitter business feuds between two high profile Canberra businessmen, the airport's managing director Stephen Byron and Village Building Company's Bob Winnel.
But a truce was reached in 2013. Village would build its houses at South Jerrabomberra and to safeguard the airport against noise complaints by future residents a clause would be included in the sale contracts. Homes would also require noise abatement measures such as double glazed windows.
Village Building Company chief executive Travis Doherty, who took over from Bob Winnel two years ago, said South Jerrabomberra has been the company’s greatest challenge. The company turns 30 this year, and the saga has been going for more than half that time.
“It’s one of those ones you could write a book about,” Mr Doherty said.
“One of the unique things is we’re on the border. If you look at the number of stakeholders involved - NSW department of planning, department of transport, department of education, the Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council - that’s an inordinate amount of stakeholders just on the NSW side. And then you’ve got the ACT and the various departments within that government. In its very nature it’s bloody difficult to get everyone on the same page.”
Then there’s the surrounding land holders, and of course, the airport.
“But we've moved on from that [feud with the airport]. We see each other around town, we say hi, we have lunch, we all move on. It is what it is.”
The bulldozers rolled onto the site two years in what the company thought was a turning point for the development. But when work stalled, Mr Doherty said they had to recalibrate.
“It was really disappointing over two years ago to have in-principle agreement from various authorities and then that decision to change, but sometimes it's a blessing in disguise because I think what were actually going to create is fantastic.
“We don’t shy away from that false start, hindsight is the smartest person in the world, but… we are very much ready to go now.”
On site work will start again in February, with the first homes to be built in 2020.
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