I moved into Mullumbimby township in 1989. How quiet it was, how almost quaint, with noon Saturday closing of all the shops and the most exciting thing to eat tofu chips from the glorious Popular Café.
How distinctly unfashionable it was at that time to live in the town – all the cool people lived on the coast or in the hills.
Times change, of course they do. Now Mullum is a desirable address, house prices are high, rents are high, and development has taken off in the last year or so with the easing of second dwelling restrictions.
The backyard veggie patches have all but gone, as have the chook runs, all demolished to make way for the second – even third – dwelling.
Perhaps it’s time to ask ourselves how we envisage our town into the future. How to balance the need for housing with maintaining the character of downtown Mullumbimby, with its charming weatherboard houses and lovely old trees.
A Development Application is currently before council for 10 units to be squeezed between two of these lovely old houses, at the recently sold 116 Stuart Street, cloaked in the mantle of ‘affordable housing’.
In fact only three of the ten need to be designated affordable in order for the developer (who has already successfully placed over 125 of these units in over 30 locations in Queensland and NSW) to tick the boxes.
Only five parking spaces need be provided for the potential 20 tenants of the development, with the rest expected to compete with the huge volume of cars now using residents’ nature strips as daytime parking.
No thought has been given to neighbours confronted with nine terraces and all the potential noise issues arising.
A few plantings in the minuscule gardens and a fence are laughably expected to solve that one.
Nobody can argue with the need for affordable housing in Byron Shire.
However, affordable housing must be affordable housing, not inappropriate development masquerading as affordable housing, and it should be situated where it does not severely impact the amenity of the town and the peace and quiet of existing neighbours.
Station Street currently has two large vacant lots, not adjacent to any other dwellings, which would be far more suitable.
DA 10.2016.189.1 can be viewed on council’s website or at council chambers in Mullumbimby. Exhibition and submissions close 4pm on April 27.
Christine McNeil, Mullumbimby