Land grab has local dividend

Kate MatthewsCountryman

Small communities across the Wheatbelt are known for leasing land for community cropping but in the town of Hyden, they've gone one step further.

Last year, the Hyden Progress Association (HPA)was given an opportunity too good to pass up - the chance to buy 226 hectares on the outskirts of town.

The real benefit, says HPA president and local farmer Paul Green, is the potential to subdivide the land in the future.

For the past five years, there hasn't been an inch of land available for sale and Mr Green said it was constraining the town's development.

"To get a hold of the land gives the community the power to decide how it wants to have the town developed in the future," Mr Green said.

The plan so far is to subdivide the land so it can be used for industrial, commercial and residential purposes.

If and when it is subdivided, Mr Green said they would ensure they retained at least 100ha to crop, with the proceeds going towards funding local projects.

With a community of about 400, locals say it's often hard to access government grants so they fund as much as they can through projects such as community cropping.

The most recent project funded was a respite centre in town.

To purchase the community cropping land, the HPA sourced a loan through the Kondinin Shire and has been supported by local publican Sheenagh Collins, a strong advocate of developing the town.

Ms Collins, who was born in Hyden, said both her parents were also born in the Wheatbelt town and were childhood sweethearts born to original pioneers to the area.

The qualified draftsman will use her skills to help with planning ideas put forward by the community.

Mr Green said last year the land was sown to wheat and $72,500 was raised from the harvest.

The association is now fundraising for a medical centre.

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