Saddle Road a missed opportunity

Nev Hayter, Saddle Road

My Name is Neville Hayter. My family has lived on the Saddle Road for 45 years. I was a proponent of the planning proposal there that was prematurely terminated last week.

I lodged my planning proposal because in a preliminary draft residential strategy published by the council in August 2016 Byron Shire identified my land as having subdivision potential. A little after that I heard the call by Council for landowners to bring forward ‘bold ideas’ to address the big problem Byron Shire has with housing affordability. The planning proposal I was part of provided for nearly 200 homes out of the proposed 475, for affordable housing in perpetuity!

I am not a ‘big noter’ type person. I am just a regular Byron Shire guy. I do not speak at Council meetings, but I have attended all the public and Council meetings associated with the Saddle Road proposal.

Discussions about Saddle Road at the most recent Council meeting were supposed to be in relation to a progress report. So I was blown away when Council resolved to stop the planning proposal for nearly 200 affordable-housing homes. We are still completing all the necessary studies, but a large amount of information has been shared with Council staff and councillors.

What was obvious at the council meeting was that many councillors weren’t fully or properly informed. It is perplexing that a generous, affordable housing proposal such as this would be debated and decided on the basis of insufficient and, in some cases, incorrect information.

Councillor Spooner spoke passionately, acknowledging that Council should not be rejecting a planning proposal without all the information in front of them. He acknowledged that it was pre-emptive and against due process to throw out such a proposal when Byron Shire has just been announced as the most unaffordable local government area on the east coast. The housing crisis needs grassroots solutions. We were providing that in spades in collaboration with BEV.

I can only imagine that this decision to reject this offer of affordable housing when the need has never been greater will invoke confusion and outrage in the community.

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