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Byron Council pursues plan for tiny house village

Paul Bibby

A tiny house village providing homeless people with long-term housing and access to services would be set up in the Byron Shire, under a plan being pursued by Council.

Mayor Simon Richardson recently met with NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes to discuss the legislative changes needed to clear the way for the construction of the village on either Council or Crown land.

Boneyard Studios, a demonstration tiny house village in Washington, DC. Photo Boneyard Studios

‘He was really open and receptive to what we were sharing [and] cognisant of Byron’s unique housing predicament,’ Cr Richardson said.

Pilot project 

‘I think he recognised that this could be a pilot project that could pave the way for other similar proposals across the state.’

Cr Richardson said the village could provide three-to-five year tiny house leases for homeless people, as well as access to support services such as counselling and medical care.

They would be integrated with other groups, both advantaged and disadvantaged, to create a healthy, sustainable community.

Laws won’t allow

However, creating such a community is currently impossible because of the state’s planning laws.

‘If you’re looking at fixed tiny homes, they’re basically considered a permanent dwelling under the planning laws and so they can be very time consuming to get approved and then built,’ Cr Richardson said.

‘If it’s a tiny home on wheels then there are limits as to how long it can stay in a certain place and how many you can have in one place.’

Council is seeking an amendment to the Local Environment Plan (LEP) so that it includes provisions for its tiny house village development to occur, including eligible land and dwellings that can be included in such a project.

It is also seeking a commitment from the Planning and Local Government departments to form a working group with Byron Council that would look at how this type of development could be achieved more flexibly and permanently.

During the recent meeting, Minister Stokes asked Council to come up with a more detailed proposal for the tiny homes village and to include this in its local planning statement next year.


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16 responses to “Byron Council pursues plan for tiny house village”

  1. Anne says:

    Great but what is also needed are boarding houses. The type that used to be fairly common across the North Coast region where someone on a low income or social disadvantage could rent a room .. shared kitchen and bathroom and yes affordable ie real affordable housing. Many closed I believe as the owners couldn’t afford to comply with new fire regulations. But the boarding house option should be revisited in any discussion of affordable housing and homelessness.

  2. Margaret Connell says:

    Great idea Good Luck

  3. Nat Clarke says:

    They used used to be called caravan parks! This concept was an integral service in a caravan park. Caravan parks often evolved from camping grounds that were used by itinerant workers, showies, gypsyies, the battlers of the depression and retirees. Their year round fees supplemented summer and holiday campers. We have seen our caravan parks turned into cash cows for state governments and greedy corporates have taken over retirement villages, squeezing out- evicting low income earners, pensioners and the homeless.

  4. Lin Bell says:

    Brilliant!

  5. Maya Sapir says:

    How wonderful!! I really hope Byron can lead the way out of homelessness. It’s about time someone start such a project! I hope the bureaucrats will come to the party.

  6. Christopher Hungerland says:

    It’s not just the “tiny houses”, it’s the tiny sewer/water/electrical connections; there’s the rub.

  7. Barry says:

    Can’t see rich white trash liking this much. There goes the neighbourhood.

  8. Rossco Phillips says:

    Let’s talk homelessness of the critters of the forest and wilderness by the hand of humans.

    Let’s talk ‘time to stop reproducing mindlessly’ and cut immigration.

    Or are you one of those that believes we humans are more important than other species sharing our planet ?

  9. Doug says:

    Hi,
    I personally do not think Tiny houses are the way to go. The problem could develop into the ´Trailer park¨ ghettos in the US.
    I feel a much better way would be to build more public housing (or privately owned shared accommodation) that is interspersed in normal housing developments. This can be higher density housing.
    I proposed to pollies years ago that there should be a class of dwelling that was not as ridgid as townhouses, or as stultifying as the ´over 50s´ developments.
    This idea was that for any block over 1000 M sq (so including rural), that flexibility be allowed by the following:
    Maximum 3 dwelling buildings, with a total site maximum of 9 bedrooms, & 5 dwellings. There would need to be a ´Common bond´ to give a sense of community (such as a monthly meal or meeting, sports such as a tennis court or pool, or people of a common outlook such as a church group etc) This would allow, as a Complying development, a group of people to build shared accommodation of 4 of 1 bedroom units, with a 3 bedroom carers residence & 2 floating guest accommodation (ideal for retired friends to live together), or another possibility of 3 x 3 bedroom houses. One stipulation is that the buildings must occupy a single area with a single road access. (This retains the community feel)
    Using that Complying development process, reasonably priced housing of a permanent nature could be built as in-fill, or existing housing could be expanded if on a larger block.

  10. David McGrath says:

    Why does the Mayor refer to a project in Washington USA when there is an identical concept in Gosford (Central Coast NSW)?
    Plus who will be the Registered Community Housing provider to manage the tenants – it is a very specialised task.

  11. Marianne says:

    The true worry is this –
    Local Government taking on a role already covered by a State Government Department. Like all the health services our local councils took control of and has been part of the reason why our rates increase.
    If our local councils keep on taking control of these types of issues the only ones that will end up paying is we the ratepayer and those who are renting. Rates factor into the setting of the rental amount you pay.
    It is a very worthy thought process and I applaud all our local councils for considering these tiny homes as a solution.
    I would very much prefer our councils put in submissions to the appropriate Government Department in charge of housing, putting the case which would include costing, plans etc., same as any D.A. and get them to foot the bill and all ongoing costs.
    I most certainly do not want my council to undertake such a project which ultimately will have a negative impact on the amount of rates charged to property owners. Renter must realise this will also increase the rents they pay as these rises are passed on.
    Perhaps residents should put it to Council to take action via the State Government Department.

  12. Jack says:

    Access to shelter and water should be two basic human rights in any enlightened society.

  13. Jim Beatson says:

    Marianne is correct in saying this a State Government responsibility.
    I am happy to sit down with others outside the private homes of all Lib and Nat MP homes to call for action on building more state housing. The NSW Gov’t is drenched in money but want it to pay the big 4 (KPMG, PW, etc) echo chamber for very expensive advise that the gov’t wants to hear, plus of course providing more $$S for our MPs extortionate salaries and expenses perks.
    It’s time we all said enough is enough.
    Jim Beatson Byron Bay

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