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Byron Shire
May 31, 2023

Mullum’s unit development sets a poor standard

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Len Bates is correct about the proposed 10-unit-development in Stuart Street, Mullumbimby, being a precedent that will weaken the heritage provisions of the Byron LEP and DCP.

In large part this is because of the NSW State Planning Policy (SEPP) that overrides local planning law. Any time a SEPP is used, it tends to override or weaken local provisions. In this case, the precedent will have greater effect as the development is the first test of the heritage provisions in this part of town.

This multi dwelling proposal includes attic bedrooms that push the height and width beyond the existing single storey character. It will be higher and bulkier than surrounding homes. As has happened elsewhere, future development of adjacent sites are likely to claim a right to build to this precedent.

Cr Spooner claims there are no planning grounds to object to the proposal. Yet the SEPP does provide for a ‘character’ test that has been considered and applied by the Land and Environment Court.

In addition to the out of character height and bulk, the site is zoned R2 low density.

Heritage character of the street front and rear lane are also compromised by the car parking with potential to impact on an adjacent heritage listed property as well as the use of a ‘replica’ facade,

Also a bit of an exaggeration to describe objections to the development as ‘discriminatory’ that would see lower income people banished to the ‘fringes of town’.

This shouldn’t be a contest between affordable housing and heritage. If the attics were deleted and the number of units reduced, it is possible to have affordable housing that fits with the existing character.

From a social inclusion perspective it is surely better if affordable housing is integrated into the existing character of neighbourhoods?

Unfortunately in this instance, the developers appear to have relied entirely on the SEPP to trump local provisions and as in many other cases (e.g. Seniors proposal at Ewingsdale) this creates conflicts with local communities.

It need not be one or the other. We will all get better outcomes for heritage, affordable housing and much more if developers considering using a SEPP seek to engage with the community standards reflected in local LEP and DCPs.

In the meantime it is up to councillors to set and apply the community standard.

Cr Basil Cameron, Goonengerry

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  1. Good idea to remove the attics and reduce number of units to create more appropriate housing. The small unit with attic design isn’t that suitable for affordable housing anyway. what if the person needing affordable housing is aged or has a disability or children? affordable housing units should be one level.


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