The Shire of Broome will redevelop McMahon Estate in Cable Beach in an effort to address the severe housing shortage in the world famous tourist town. McMahon Estate was rezoned when the council adopted Local Planning Scheme No. 7 in May last year. The scheme has yet to be gazetted. The 10ha parcel of land on Cable Beach, next to Cable Beach Primary School, was originally intended to be used as sporting grounds. But after the Broome Recreation and Aquatic Centre was established less than a kilometre away, the need for a sporting ground became obsolete. In response to the enduring housing crisis in town, the Shire rezoned the area for urban development in an effort to increase market stock. A council report said the housing crisis had made it difficult for employers to attract and retain key workers, affecting the delivery of essential services and hindering the local economy. “The housing shortage in Broome is a significant problem causing multiple issues for the local community, particularly regarding key worker accommodation and housing for over 55s,” the report said. “The rental vacancy rate has hovered around zero per cent for some time and is currently at 4 per cent, with rental properties scarce. “The issue has resulted in many long-term residents leaving the Shire due to their inability to find affordable housing or find any housing at all.” Property prices and rental prices have also risen dramatically, with median house rents surging from about $600 in mid-2020 to more than $800 late last year. The Shire received a $200,000 grant from the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage’s local government assistance program to prepare a structure plan for McMahon Estate. The structure plan will provide a framework for future land development, taking into account factors such as population growth, infrastructure requirements, environmental considerations, and economic factors. “We are all aware of the housing shortages that are occurring around Australia, but particularly in Broome,” shire president Desiree Male said. “So we saw it definitely as an opportunity to try and add housing supply to the current under-supply that we’re experiencing. “We are doing everything we possibly can to try and relieve some of these housing pressures that we know are really severe at the moment.” The council committed $50,000 to the project in April and a further $200,000, which will be offset by the DPLH grant. It comes after Cr Male urged the State Government to take action on the severe housing shortage in Broome in late May, saying the time for talk was “well and truly over”. “It was great to meet with Minister (Don) Punch, who fully understands the issues we face up here, particularly with housing,” she said at the time. “And while Broome is by no means the only place in WA experiencing severe housing shortages, we have one of the lowest levels of available housing stock and the highest growth in rental costs in Australia. “This has been the case for at least two years and things are only getting worse.” The Shire is also applying for $16.5m to fund the Sanctuary Road Caravan Park, Key Worker and Over 55s Village, which is also intended to add housing stock to the market.