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Byron Shire
February 25, 2021

‘Affordable’ housing proposal shuts out elderly, disabled, residents’ group says

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The plan to build eight ‘affordable housing’ units on Argyle Street, Mullumbimby would ignore the needs of elderly and disabled locals and create traffic issues, a local residents’ group says.

In a stinging submission to Byron Council, the Mullumbimby Residents Association (MRA) said the proposal for a block of two-storey units on 28 Argyle Street was an ‘overdevelopment of the site’ that  should not be approved without major amendments.

‘There is a general recognition in the community that affordable housing is a necessity, but poor development proposals must be recognised for what they are,’ the convenor of the MRA Sonia Laverty said in the submission.

‘There is no attempt to be inclusive of young families with small children, older residents or those with mobility issues.

‘All units are two storey with the bedroom accessed by a spiral staircase – extremely difficult to negotiate for any but the young and fit.’

The MRA is also concerned that the units will not, in fact, be affordable.

This follows revelations, reported in The Echo last week, that units in a newly-opened affordable housing block by the same company – The Kollective – would be rented for $550-$600 a week.

‘We know from (that) experience that the developer will seek to obtain very high rent for the majority of units while allocating the minimum number of units as ‘affordable’,’ Ms Laverty said in the submission.

‘Rental accommodation for low income earners (in NSW) needs to be less than $300 a week to be affordable and avoid rental stress.

‘And that’s based on wages for full-time work, something which is not readily available…’

In their development application, The Kollective claims that the eight units will not increase traffic in Mullumbimby because of ‘the availability of a regular bus service’. This was part of the company’s justification for the absence of any designated parking spaces within the development.

But Ms Laverty said a quick glance at the local bus timetable disproved the public transport claims, heightening fears that the development would have a significant traffic impact unless some on-site parking was included.

‘There is no service from Mullumbimby before 8.25am on any day of the week and only between six and seven opportunities to use a bus during the day over an eight or nine hour period with the last bus at either 4.35pm or 5pm depending on where you’re coming from,’ she said.

‘The apparent lack of a regular bus service that would suit working people is far from a reality with car ownership a necessity.’

The MRA said the DA needed to be amended in a number of basic respects before the proposal was given the green light by Council.

This included reducing the overall number of units, ensuring that at least some of them were accessible to people with a disablity and older people, providing at least one parking spot per unit, and delaying a decision until a new flood study was obtained.

The Kollective has consistently maintained that its affordable housing proposals combine community housing and affordable long term rentals, a model that is says ‘goes a long way in addressing the inequality of housing in the Byron Bay and Mullumbimby area’.

Public submissions for the DA closed on January 16. The proposal will now go to council staff who will make a recommendation to councillors in the coming weeks.

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  1. Why is it that people keep falling for this ‘affordable housing’ furphy? There is no such thing. Developers know that all they have to do in this shire is put ‘affordable housing’ in their DA somewhere and they will get it through. Of course developers are going to charge the maximum rent they can. That’s what capitalist developers do. Altruism is not a word in their vocabulary. These people, The Kollective, are just developers with a catchy name. They are just like every other developer. It doesn’t matter if you call yourself a ‘Wellness Centre’ and throw down a few yoga mats, to make yourself look appealing, you are still just another developer out to maximise your investment and make money.

  2. There will never be affordable housing in the Byron shire! After living there off and on for the last 38 years, (left a few times to get real jobs) I left for good!

    Now I live in a 2 bedroom house with a big garden that I pay less for than a one room “studio” anywhere in the shire!

    If you want a better quality of life without all the expense, LEAVE! I did and am not looking back.

    There are plenty of other places in this wonderful country of ours without all the BS the Byron Bubble serves up.

    Jobs and affordable housing is not hard to get if you are willing to go somewhere else!
    What are you waiting for?

    Of course if you are a movie star or well off you can stay!

  3. There’s no affordable housing for youngsters too. Where do our kids live after they finished school? Where do I go when I am old and grey and need to be closer to town? Does anyone actually think about these things?
    Well I do… $350/week seems to be absolutely the max for anyone studying or a pension.

    Seeing out of town developers and AirBNB’rs (sorry friends…) crashing the opportunity to keep this community whole, makes my feel sick. Byron has hugely increased it’s development and voila; most locals don’t go in unless they really have to.

    I would like to see that ALL generations can easily find a place to rent; not just the families with an ok income.
    Keep the rental money within this community and make sure that elderly and children become the focus.
    I am sure that we can find amazing creative solutions, not just unaffordable housing.


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