A local developer has urged Lismore City Council (LCC) to start allowing private developers to join in the provision of social housing.
But one resident has questioned the wisdom of a mixed-use site that places the elderly near boarding-house occupants, who she said often tend to have drug and mental health problems.
Caught in the middle is Lismore Council, which this week deferred the approval of a two-storey dwelling in Esmonde Street, Girards Hill, with a recommendation to remove the upper level of the development.
The developer Doug Foskey has been knocked back twice for this proposal, which sees a lower level for senior living and the upper as a boarding house for single mature women.
Mr Foskey addressed council stating that ‘the development is reasonably priced, well designed and meets a community need’.
Mr Foskey continued by saying, ‘single mature women are in the biggest need group for affordable housing’. He pointed out that ‘currently there are no modern boarding houses in Lismore’.
Councillor Vanessa Ekins supports the DA and believes there is an urgent need for this type of housing.
Cr Smith joined in the support. He sees Wyrallah Road as an area for medium-density housing.
‘We need to increase the housing density near main roads as they are close to facilities and public transport.’
Like many councils, LCC is struggling to balance its need for affordable housing and the NIMBY (‘not in my back yard’) argument.
Cr Smith outlined the struggle that council will face by keeping the best interests of the community in mind.
‘Council is well aware of the increasing demand on affordable housing and this cannot be met by land encroachment. It can be aided by infill development.’
Speaking in opposition to the DA was Christine Harvey. She told council, ‘the DA in its current form is an overdevelopment of the site, which is why the DA has been rejected previously’.
The issue of mixed use raises its own questions. Ms Harvey believes that boarding houses are associated with drugs and alcohol problems and mental illness.
‘Placing a boarding house above seniors who are vulnerable is not reasonable.’
Cr Meineke questioned the ‘ability to enforce the single status of boarding residents and visitor numbers and their length of stay at the site’.
Additional recommendations for the amended DA were to include a pitched roof with hipped ends in compatibility with the local area.