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May 7, 2021

Residents say housing law skews DA plans

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Byron Bay residents have slammed the use of NSW affordable-housing legislation for development applications that could overwhelm local amenity.

The law allows for an increase in the amount of housing that can be placed onto a site, and a reduction in parking allocation. 

The Kollective has put in a development application (DA) for eight dwellings on a single house block at Julian Rocks Drive in Sunrise Estate. It is understood that they have purchased two other properties on the same street for possible future development. Under the affordable housing SEPP (State Environmental Planning Policy) developers are allowed, among other things, to increase the density of housing on the site in exchange for supplying 20 per cent of the housing (in this case two one-bedroom units) for rent at 20 per cent below market value for ten years. After that the affordable housing component is no longer required and the rent or sale of the property reverts to free-market prices.

Local residents say that the DA doesn’t meet the zoning requirements, will create problems with parking and be detrimental to the amenity and character of the area.

‘A similar Kollective development around the corner on Sunrise Boulevard has created real problems with parking,’ said Mr Casey Speed, whose property borders the proposed Kollective development site.

‘That is because the legislation for this medium-density development was based on the idea that it would be happening in metropolitan Sydney within easy access to regular light rail, rail and buses.

‘There isn’t good public transport here and everyone owns a car, but the DA doesn’t allow enough car spaces for the number of cars that will result from the DA. This means that you will have cars parking all over the verges like you do in Sunrise Boulevard around The Kollective development there.

‘Sunrise Boulevard is 11.1m wide while, Julian Rocks Drive is only 7.6m wide, so the problem will be even worse here.’

Cars everywhere

The impact of the cars on Sunrise Boulevard has been confirmed by other local residents.

‘That area around The Kollective gets very congested,’ said one resident who asked not to be named.

‘There are so many cars parked on the side of the street, and in that area – like Julian Rocks Drive – it doesn’t have a footpath, so it doesn’t make it the safest place to walk after dark. Also it seems that a lot of the residents use their cars as part of their jobs so it is unlikely that they would use public transport even if it were available.’

Zoning questioned

While Sunrise Estate does have areas that are zoned R3 for medium density, according to Mr Speed’s submission to Council, The Kollective’s DA identifies the current zoning as R2 – Medium Density Zone, when it is in fact a R2 – Low Density Residential Zone.

Residents say that owing to the design of the DA, the two-storey dwellings will look directly into their gardens as well as blocking their light. As a result, they believe the development is significantly out of character for the area, which is family homes of one storey.

Not right for Byron

MP Tamara Smith has said that this DA highlights how inappropriate the use of statewide planning laws are for Byron Shire.

‘For twenty years, Byron Shire has had a commitment to Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD) and the use of state-wide planning policies for Byron Shire is repeatedly at odds with this. The Sydney cookie-cutter model of one-size-fits-all puts our infrastructure and community amenity at risk,’ she told The Echo.

‘The allowed reduction in car parking spaces is a metropolitan situation, where residents have access to public transport. In Byron Shire that’s not the case, and what reduced car parking requirements would deliver is higher density developments that will deliver more street parking.’

A spokesperson from the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment told The Echo that, ‘Byron Shire Council is responsible for assessing development applications, including the level of parking provision provided for the development.

‘Council’s assessment is required to consider traffic in the local area, including safety issues.’

The Kollective respond

According to The Kollective director Duncan Band, while they are not a social housing provider they are committed to affordable housing. Mr Band said that they locate their developments centrally ‘within walking distance to essential services, close to employment hubs and serviced by public transport.

‘The proposed development at 6 Julian Rocks Drive, Byron Bay, is another example of The Kollective’s “Build to Rent” strategy which aims to deliver long-term, affordable, alternate housing choice for singles and couples wanting to live close to retail, commercial, medical and educational facilities.’

Mr Band said there are currently no DA plans available for 7 and 9 Julian Rocks Drive.

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