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Byron Shire
March 6, 2021

Community title process

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Fast Buck$, Coorabell

At the last Byron Shire Council meeting I used public access to press Council to look closely at what planning director Ray Darney has done in the draft LEP re rural settlement.

Why has he demoted properties that are depicted in the Rural Strategy as eligible for Community Title as eventually to be eligible only for Multiple Occupancy?

According to a recent letter from Ray Darney the Rural Strategy has directly resulted in the creation of over 600 CT and MO lots and ‘potential’ dwellings.

What I’d actually asked him was how many actual dwellings had resulted, not how many new lots.

I suspect that he avoided answering the question because the answer is embarrassing: fewer than 50.

Now the strategy was expressly supposed to undergo a thorough review after five years (ie 2003–4) to see how it was working, so that any faults could be tweaked.

That review never happened.

What did happen was that the state government in 2007 decreed that councils must prepare a ‘local growth management study’.

The staff used this as a reason to effectively freeze new CT applications pending the outcome of the new study, and your elected lambs quietly went along with it.

Now Multiple Occupancy was intended to create affordable housing, but it’s fraught with problems; people are reluctant to buy in and it can be difficult to extract yourself.

Community Title was meant to fix the worst of those problems: you own outright your own piece of land, meaning that banks will lend against it, and also that you can sell without hindrance from other people on the land.

By deleting explicit CT eligibility from the draft LEP, Council is trying to throw group land ownership back to the stone age without justification and without examination, ie in an information vacuum.

I’m looking for a way to challenge this in my current legal case against Council.

In the meantime it’s important for elected councillors to realise that if they allow this through, Ray will be able to claim that the public were consulted via the public exhibition process for the draft LEP, so what’s the problem?

The problem is that it’s Ray who has set up the broad parameters and the public exhibition process by its nature usually results only in tinkering at the edges.

The question is whether any councillor will have the courage to initiate a debate about Community Title in the LEP at this late stage and seek some meaningful feedback from those affected. Better late than never, and the LEP might be in effect for the next 20 years or more.



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