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Byron Shire
December 1, 2021

Byron’s affordable housing plan

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Byron Shire Council at its 7 August meeting, started a review of the affordable housing strategy (AHS). The S94 planner reported that ‘the one successful strategy has been the waiving of S94 contributions for secondary dwellings’ which was done on 11 April 2011.

Since then the council has registered 218 secondary dwellings. However, the meeting resolved to consider restoring requirement of these S94 contributions.

One of the reasons given for this is that many of these garden flats could be used for holiday letting, not for affordable housing.

Some would be, but maybe the proposed holiday-let strategy will make that less likely.

Perhaps that could be enhanced by allowing garden flats for holiday letting in those zones, with S94 contributions, and more than one per dwelling, where there is space.

This would give tourists more options and also make it easier for larger families who want to holiday together. The current limit of five bedrooms total seems way too small for the party zone.

Meanwhile, the many other strategies are in limbo, not so much through lack of attention but more it seems due to the continually rising cost of land here and tourism pressures.

More traditional housing development in the right places will help some wealthier people, but for low income, long-term residents, who are being squeezed out, that will be irrelevant.

So, the simpler downsized options detailed in the AHS need more consideration.

That is caravan parks for permanents and manufactured housing estates (MHE). The latter are well known in their retirement village form: an expensive, often very well set up and sociable, place to end your days.

Byron could do its own version of MHEs and quite differently in a not-for-profit way. The AHS identifies large areas of council-owned land around Mullum as worth investigating for that.

Much of it is flood-prone however and not so suitable for caravan parks, but cabins raised above the flood level would work. Flooding is a rare event and as long as you keep your stuff out of it, not much of a problem.

In MHEs the dwellings have to be mostly made off-site.

Fortunately, the strategy identified as potentially available for affordable housing the council works depot in Coolamon Scenic Drive, with sheds probably big enough to build them in.

Given that council owns the land that could be of great benefit to the whole community and council.

Perhaps we could also do a professionally supervised and fair work-for-the-dole project to produce them. Of course it’s all way more complicated than that but….

 Jed Stuart, Wilsons Creek

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  1. A really great idea that would require creativity and imagination on the part of council. Our adversarial political system, from national to local, doesn’t allow this. Creativity and imagination need nurturing and are, therefore, far too fragile to survive in an adversarial environment. That’s why we never, ever, see any. Our, supposedly, most important decision making process must do so without the help of creativity and imagination.


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