Geraldton is facing a drop-off in building approvals, with the number of houses given the building go-ahead falling by about two-thirds since 2014. Setbacks and hardships plaguing the local building industry were put in the spotlight at a housing forum in Geraldton on Monday, with stakeholders having their say on the way forward. Regional Development Minister Don Punch made an appearance at the forum, hosted by the Mid West Development Commission. The focus was on keeping up with demand for workforce accommodation and other residential housing as major projects across the region are planned or currently underway. City of Greater Geraldton Mayor Shane Van Styn said Geraldton had slow and steady economic and population growth, but was seeing a slow down in building approvals due to four key reasons— delay in power and water supply, rebuilding from COVID, the current housing market and resource challenges. He said 124 houses were given the building go ahead in 2022 compared with 360 in 2014. MWDC CEO Nils Hay said as major projects arise in Geraldton, it was important there was the infrastructure available to house the growing population. Elysian Consulting managing director Greg Cash said strain to the rental market was a result of minimal investment in housing across regional WA because construction costs were higher than the median house rate. Mr Punch said the State Government was focused on the importance of economic diversity in regional WA to attract people to the regions. “One of the central messages is looking at diversity of housing options. Smaller houses, one to two bedroom units all the way through to larger family housing,” he said. He said the meeting was focused on where housing in Geraldton was heading, the economic development and how that will bring more people in the region. “A place like Geraldton can really look at the opportunities for building place-based solutions, understanding the social needs of the community, the housing needs, what the economic future looks like and then thinking about that from a strategic housing perspective,” he said. Shadow minister for housing Steve Martin said the State Government had given no indication there would be a solution to the delays in housing. “This should be a thriving city, it just needs an allocation of resources from the State to make sure those things happen,” he said.