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How a residential subdivision led to the regeneration of a western Victorian town

Location: Beaufort, Victoria
Population: 7, 671 (LGA, 2021 Census)

Ten years ago, the Pyrenees Shire Council in regional Victoria took a calculated risk and bought a tranche of land in Beaufort, a town of about 1,700 people on the Western Highway midway between Ararat and Ballarat. Beaufort, despite hosting schools, good public transportation links to Melbourne and other amenities, was stagnating.  The town’s housing stock, like its population, was ageing and private developers were not interested nor willing to take a risk in the former gold-rush town.

Using $6m in savings and loans, the Council, in consultation with the Beaufort community, developed a residential subdivision called Correa Park and over seven years and several stages sold about 100 blocks of land. The Shire concedes sales started slow, but after several new-builds were established momentum grew, and soon every new land release had a waiting list, and council recouped its initial investment. 

It’s proven such a success the Council is about to embark on developing a further subdivision in Beaufort. It plans on seeking a partnership with the Victorian State Government to help fund the enabling infrastructure for the subdivision– a set-up it believes could be replicated across the country to assist regional councils wanting to develop residential land, and state governments wanting to increase housing stock. The Council notes however Victoria’s recently introduced Windfalls Gain Tax could prove to be a disincentive for some shires to rezone land.

Pyrenees Shire Council CEO, Jim Nolan, attributes Correa Park as the catalyst for a regeneration of Beaufort which has since seen its population grow, new businesses and an additional train service established, and its community modernised, making it more viable and seeing its previously underutilised public amenities better used.

“I think it’s provided a certain amount of confidence to the community to invest – as well as the state.  We’re not just a little tinpot rural town that’s going to die.  The Council is investing effort in this and it’s justification for people to invest as well.”

Pyrenees Shire Council’s Correa Park development was highlighted at the National Regional Housing Summit in February 2024.

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