AN unprecedented large parcel of land has been opened for development in an area sure to attract Jewish families.
While homeowners in Jewish Melbourne are sitting on veritable gold mines, those looking to enter the housing market in suburbs such as Caulfield North or Caulfield South, or St Kilda East are facing a hefty battle.
But with Glen Eira Council’s decision two weeks ago to rezone carparks owned by the Melbourne Racing Club, there is potential for new, affordable housing close to Jewish community infrastructure.
While the Melbourne Racing Club did not return The AJN’s calls, the council confirmed it had approved a substantial amount of the club’s existing space for residential use.
Councillor Jamie Hyams said he supported appropriate development.
“One of the council’s policies is to encourage diversity of housing to cater for different accommodation needs throughout the community,” he said.
According to preliminary plans submitted by the racecourse management to council, the land will eventually include up to 1200 dwellings – or accommodate 4000 news residents – in apartments and individual houses. The residential area, it is proposed, would blend into the existing neighbourhoods on Kambrook Road, Caulfield North.
There are also plans to include shops, a new supermarket, green spaces and offices on the site.
While the first sod will not be turned for many months, perhaps even years, Jewish community figures are supportive of the plan to increase the supply of housing in Caulfield.
Local Member David Southwick, himself a young father, said the cost and availability of residential property is a problem across the whole state. “Young members of the Jewish community have expressed a keen desire to live in Caulfield, but face the issues of housing shortages and affordability,” he said.
The Caulfield MP noted he would keenly monitor development.
“My view is that more sensible development is needed because our community wishes to live around the schools, shuls and communal facilities in Caulfield,” he said.
“The proposed racecourse development provides an opportunity for more affordable housing options in Caulfield, but it is important that any affordable housing be integrated into the rest of the development.”
According to figures collected by Jewish Care, proximity to kosher shops, synagogues and Jewish schools is a priority for Jewish househunters – with 97 per cent of those seeking housing assistance from the social welfare organisation looking to stay close to the Jewish community.
Worryingly, in 2008-09 – the most recent figures available – Jewish Care received a 25 per cent increase in requests for housing assistance.
And it is not surprising. According to Australian Property Monitors, the median house price in Caulfield North is $1.28 million; a unit will set you back, on average, $530,000.
Down the road in St Kilda East, $931,000 is the median house price and you will just get change from half a million dollars for a unit.
Caulfield South is the most affordable of the “typically Jewish” suburbs; there the median house price is $912,000.
Jewish Community Council of Victoria president John Searle welcomed Glen Eira Council’s decision to rezone some of the vacant land for residential use.
“But for the cost of a home in Caulfield, many more young families would choose to live in the heart of our community close to shuls, schools, kosher restaurants, families and friends,” Searle said, adding that the rezoning could represent an opportunity for more families to get a start in Caulfield. “The rezoning may certainly represent an exciting possibility for some enterprising developers to provide affordable housing for members of our community.”