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Byron Shire
June 15, 2024

$500/week for demountable housing in Bangalow

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These dwellings at 12 - 14 Ballina Road, Bangalow, were approved by Byron Shire Council staff as two houses and two granny flats. Photo Chris Dobney
These dwellings at 12 – 14 Ballina Road, Bangalow, were approved by Byron Shire Council staff as two houses and two granny flats. Photo Chris Dobney

Chris Dobney

[Updated] Residents of Bangalow’s sleepy Ballina Road are up in arms against four prefabricated dwellings on two subdivisions they say set a shocking precedent in housing approvals.

Referred to by neighbours as ‘horrible structures’ and ‘hideous tin sheds’ the dwellings were erected on former farmland towards the end of the no-through road.

Byron Shire Council approved the buildings at 12 and 14 Ballina Road as two houses and two granny flats, although from the outside they all appear the same.

They front a gravel lane running parallel to the road, each one flanked by a zincalume carport.

According to neighbours the dwellings are each advertised for lease by McGrath for $500 a week.

Approved by staff

Local resident David Wood was one of a number of neighbours who sent in submissions regarding the DA for the dwellings, which was approved by council staff.

Residents only found out after the fact that the housing had been approved without them being advised.

Mr Wood added, ‘It took me a long while to get a response. I ended up writing to the mayor, who handed it on to the general manager.’

‘It was only after I wrote to the mayor a second time that I got a response at all.’

A letter dated August 25 from council’s director of sustainable environment and economy, Shannon Burt, confirmed that ‘two separate DAs were lodged last year for a house and secondary dwelling on each property.’

‘These DAs were notified and submissions received including your own’ she wrote.

‘The DAs were presented to Council’s Planning Review Committee who resolved that they be determined under staff delegation. The DAs were subsequently determined.

‘Please note that Council does not send out further notification to persons that made a submission to a DA determined under delegation. Advice to submitters in the acknowledgement letter directs submitters to a web link to the Eservices page to monitor the status and progress of the DA,’ Ms Burt wrote.

But the council’s response failed to mollify Mr Wood, who told Echonetdaily, ‘The development applications relating to the lots clearly state “house and secondary dwelling” – this is not the case.

‘What has been placed on the property are four Colourbond demountable cabins as seen in caravan parks.

‘I understand the need for affordable housing* but this surely does not comply with council standards in that regard. Further to this, For Lease signs have been erected at a rental price of $500 per cabin per week, surely this does not represent affordable housing,’ Mr Wood said.

Indeed Ms Burt confirmed the nature of the construction in a further letter dated September 8, although insisting each consisted of ‘house and secondary dwelling’.

‘The development consent granted is for the construction of a dwelling house, a secondary dwelling, and associated carports on each property.

‘The developer is Techton and the construction type is modular building units and is that approved by the development consent,’ Ms Burt wrote.

Mr Wood responded to Echonetdaily, ‘Does this mean this type of development is going to be the norm for council to approve throughout the shire?’

Another neighbour, who wished not to be named described the structures as, ‘monstrosities that don’t have any landscaping plan, bin housings, proper carports, etc.

‘This was a total misuse of the prime agricultural land benefits relating to housing for farm managers etc.

‘It was never envisaged that this concession would be applied to totally wreck what is in fact a residential street, that suffers from its archaic rural zoning,’ the resident wrote.

In a series of email round robins, neighbours have considered planting out the verge to screen the bare structures from the street, but this was abandoned because of optic-fibre cable running underneath.

  • An earlier version of this story claimed that the homes were approved under state ‘affordable housing’ provisions. Cr Paul Spooner has since clarified that this was not the case, they were approved under the standard 2014 LEP DA approvals process.

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  1. People are the new cash crop in the northern rivers. Who could possibly meet repayments on a farm with moneys earned from farming food? This is where Sydney people buy so they can give up work and live off the work of the local people they outprice. The state government compounds the problem with affordable housing strategies that benefit the already wealthy and Byron council chips in with free section 96 contributions

  2. I’ve been a resident of the Byron Shire for 12 years having lived in ‘share accommodation’ for 11 of those years because that was the only affordable way to do it. Then a great place came up in Clunes for under $300 which I could afford on my own, however it put me out of my network of community. Recently I started looking in Bangalow as that’s where majority of my friends are; and saw these ugly units for $450 per week, outrageous! I feel I’ve been pushed out of my community because of greedy people, I’m a good clean & tidy responsible tenant, yet Landlords seem to want to cram as many people in small spaces to get the money they want. How dare they call these affordable housing, it’s a slap in the face to someone like me who has a well paid fulltime job in Byron and even then I couldn’t pay $450 a week! As for tiny studios or 1 bedroom dwellings, nothing under $300 per week, with one 1 bedroom going for $420 per week in Bangalow. I find it very disheartening indeed.

  3. Problem solved: in a word, “LANDSCAPING”

    Never underestimate visual amenity.

    A garden of trees, garden beds + paths would make all the difference.
    Neighbours would have nothing to complain about.
    Seems a reasonable location for affordable housing.

  4. Who would have the money to pay $500 per week for a glorified shed other than a hiigway construction company seeking accommodation for itinerant workers?

  5. “Affordable housing” is a nonsense catchphrase unless there is a ball park figure which is considered “affordable” to most. Dwellings should only be passed as affordable housing or granny flats if they comply to this affordable rental figure – say $200 or $250 per week depending on location. Any being passed as affordable, that do not comply should attract a fine, and be made to comply. This figure should only be able to go up by 5% or GDP, annually.

  6. Aside from the flat roof they look about the same standard of finish as the fibro houses my father and his neighbours built in Marvell Street in the 40s. I guess I had a deprived childhood growing up in one of those in Byron Bay!

  7. I think it is important to clarify one important point in this article. It was stated that: “the development was approved under ‘affordable housing’ SEPP provisions”. This is not correct. The 2 development applications (one for each property) were assessed under LEP 2014 and DCP 2014 provisions as dwelling house and secondary dwelling development.


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