‘The least worst outcome,’ is how mayor Simon Richardson described the approval of a contentious affordable housing project in Mullumbimby by developers Koho.
And with an evenly split vote between councillors owing to Cr Cameron’s absence, the mayor used his casting vote to accept the development.
Crs Cate Coorey and three Greens, Jeannette Martin, Michael Lyon and Sarah Ndiaye, voted against, while the Greens mayor, Crs Paul Spooner, Jan Hackett (both Labor) and Alan Hunter (Nationals aligned) all voted for.
It potentially ends a long-running dispute with residents who claim the development on the average sized block is incompatible with the character of the local area.
A condition for approval includes setting aside two of the eight units ‘to be used in perpetuity for the purposes of ‘affordable housing’ as defined in the state SEPP’.
Affordable housing is regulated under a state government policy called the State Environmental Planning Policy (Affordable Rental Housing) 2009 and limits affordable housing to just ten years.
As for Koho’s current court case against Council for previously refusing the DA, legal services manager Ralph James told the chamber that if knocked back again, he believes Koho would argue in court for the original ten units.
Cr Coorey told the chamber, ‘This will drive up prices, as every housing block on the street can go this way.’
Christine McNeil from the Mullumbimby Residents Association said in a statement that given its history and Cr Cameron’s absence, ‘a motion to defer would have been ethically appropriate.’
She claimed the policy that allowed the project to proceed ‘is a proven failure in supplying low income or mid-income affordable housing in areas of high land value.’
Ms McNeil cited the case Sterling Projects Pty Ltd v the Hills Shire Council 2011 where the ‘developers’ appeal was dismissed’ owing to the consideration of streetscape and the characteristics of the properties that adjoin the site.