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Financial limbo for cottages

David CharlesworthHarvey-Waroona Reporter

The Brunswick River Cottages development has been delayed by “shifting goal posts” according to its managing committee, which is anxiously awaiting a funding announcement in April.

In January, the tender to design the project was awarded to MCG Architects which reviewed the original concept plan and developed a master plan, which on March 6 was approved by Harvey Shire Council.

Cottages committee chairman Ken Hart said since funding for the project was dropped from the State Budget last year, changes had been made to fit new State funding requirements.

The planned eight units as part of stage 2 – four with lifetime tenancy and four rental – would now be 12 rental units.

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Mr Hart said the four lifetime tenancy units would now occur in stage 3 of the development.

“It has just been a succession of shifting goal posts,” Mr Hart said.

He said the committee was now awaiting the outcome of an application for $2.2 million to the South West Development Commission as part of the Royalties for Regions Regional Aged Accommodation Program.

“We’ve had a bit of a setback but we’re moving forward,” he said.

“We’re almost there, we just have to wait until April.”

Should funding be successful, tenders for the construction of the units would be advertised and construction could potentially begin in mid 2018 and then take up to a year to complete.

Mr Hart said competition for grants was tough with the aged accommodation program funding cut to $22 million.

“There’s still 80 projects out there vying for $22 million,” he said.

“Until we get that funding I won’t be comfortable at all.”

Shire president Tania Jackson said the loss of funding had stalled what was an important project for the Brunswick community with social and economic benefits.

“It’s never good when you have that building of expectation and have it withdrawn at the eleventh hour,” Cr Jackson said.

The master plan encompasses the entire development of 40 aged accommodation units with a mix of rental and lifetime tenancies, a community facility and activity lawn area, access and internal roads, trailer and caravan parking and a community garden.

The design work and documentation for stage 2 was allocated $300,000, with $200,000 contributed by the council and a $100,000 grant from the State Government.

Cr Jackson said the master plan would enable the council to coordinate the next stages including funding.

“Having a master plan allows us to stage when funds can become available and when we can allocate it to the project,” she said.

With the approval of the plan, detailed designs would now be drawn up by the architects for the 12 units in stage 2.

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