Byron Shire Council is set to approve a 10-unit, development on the site of an old fibro cottage at Stuart Street, Mullumbimby at its meeting this week, which staff say would add to the stock of affordable housing in the town.
But local residents have described the plan for10 single-bedroom dwellings as a ‘gross overdevelopment’ of the site, which is zoned as R2 (‘low density residential’).
The proposal would see the creation of a ‘multi-dwelling development’ comprising of 10 one-bedroom units plus five car parking spaces requiring the demolition of the existing home at 116 Stuart Street.
As it has been submitted under the State Environmental Planning Policy (Affordable Rental Housing) 2009, council officers say ‘the provisions of this SEPP prevail over any inconsistencies with Byron LEP 2014.’
3 of 10 units ‘affordable’
But buried in the detail of the report is the fact that just three of the 10 dwellings (30 per cent of the floor area) are actually proposed to be let as affordable housing.
Council officers admit in their report that 90 submissions were received objecting to the development on the grounds of heritage, bulk, scale, height, rear lane access and non-compliance with Council’s planning controls.
But they say that a revised plan submitted by the proponent, including replacing a proposed single structure at the rear of the property with two buildings, addresses most of the residents’ concerns.
Local resident Chris Cooney begs to disagree, describing it as ‘a gross overdevelopment of this site, which is in the Mullumbimby Heritage Conservation precinct,’ adding ‘it does not reflect the valuable heritage aspect of the neighbourhood.’
‘It could, if approved, set an unwarranted precedent for any other block in town. Think about a development like this next door to your place,’ Mr Cooney said.
He added that he was ‘very sceptical about the claims made by the proponent that these units will be “affordable” for moderate-income people as stated in the DA.
‘This proposal is coming in under the Affordable Rental Housing SEPP [but] I seriously have my doubts. It reeks of maximising profit to the detriment of the town,’ he said.
But council officers say in their report that, ‘the proposal will provide much needed accommodation for singles and couples within close walking distance to the commercial centre of Mullumbimby.’
They add that, ‘alternatives for the site could include two upmarket dwellings in a dual occupancy arrangement or a large house with a secondary dwelling. Both alternates would likely result in the same or greater development density on site to the proposal, but do little in terms of addressing the overall housing diversity needs of 10 residents of the Shire.’