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Byron Shire
March 24, 2023

Councillor backs Mullum’s multi-unit plan

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Lismore incumbent – Janelle Saffin MP

With just a few days until we head to the polls, The Echo asked the candidates for the seat of Lismore one last bunch of questions.

ALP candidate for Ballina, Paul Spooner.
Byron shire Cr Paul Spooner.

I supported the proposed 10-unit development for Stuart Street, Mullumbimby, and believe it should go ahead.

I find it strange that a rescission motion was lodged because nothing has changed to warrant it. I did leave the council meeting at 1.30pm that day to fly to Chile in South America where I will be staying until 1 August.

The fact that the Green councillors (including the mayor), Basil Cameron and Rose Wanchap teamed up and voted against an affordable housing development is fascinating.

Why was a rescission motion lodged? Nothing has changed to warrant it being lodged. I believe it sends a very negative message about dealing with Byron Shire Council as it is a clear attempt to frustrate an approved redevelopment. I believe it is an abuse of process, should be reconsidered and withdrawn.

The proposal will provide much needed accommodation for singles and couples within close walking distance to the commercial centre of Mullumbimby.

Alternatives for the site would mean 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 the site but do little in terms of addressing the overall housing diversity needs for residents of Mullumbimby.

This includes local workers and older people. There are not enough one bedroom options available for these residents who are currently being forced to share houses with others or are forced out of the town to live elsewhere.

The proposal seeks to provide three of the ten dwellings (30% floor area) as affordable housing. Under the Affordable Housing SEPP an increase in the maximum floor space ratio from 0.5:1 to 0.8:1 is permitted.

The proposed floor space ratio is calculated to be only 0.56:1 much less than the maximum permitted. This is not over development but a very reasonable use of the affordable housing provisions of our planning laws.

I believe the proponent has listened to any concerns raised by council’s heritage adviser and adjusted the initial design taking those concerns into account.

In reality, I believe, the development will provide a better looking building than the current dwelling. The frontage will also be further back from the street then the existing house.

It should be noted that across the road it is a B2 business zone, so overtime you would expect this area of Mullumbimby to be redeveloped.

Given all these considerations if you can’t do affordable housing with this 100 per cent compliant proposal I would question where can you do it in the Byron Shire?

Without well positioned, cheaper housing low income residents will be forced away from Mullumbimby.

Over time, the Byron shire will become a place for the wealthy and better off. That’s not the sort of place I want to live and promote.

Do we want Mullumbimby to go the same way as Byron Bay in terms of over priced redevelopment?

I believe in a diverse community that looks after all it’s residents.

I would suggest to my fellow councillors that we need to not only protect the environment we also need to protect people and the local culture they create in our community.

This proposal meets the planning guidelines and should be supported.

Cr Paul Spooner, Byron Bay

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  1. Paul, this type of development is not suited for an R2 zone. More suited for medium or high density zones. This is similar to the holiday lets owned by rich people in R2 residential zones.

    I voted for you at the last election but you have been a disappointment. If you stand again in September you will be placed low down on my preference list.


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