Should Byron Council be given greater powers to facilitate development in the Shire to address the worsening housing affordability crisis?
This is one option our councillors will consider at this week’s meeting as they explore the housing challenges facing our key workers.
A Council staff report paints a grim housing picture for a broad cross-section of local workers ranging from nurses and teachers to food and accommodation industry employees.
The cumulative impact of lower-than-average incomes and the dramatic increase in rents and house prices is leaving our key workers with an unprecedented level of housing stress.
The proportion of local workers who still live in the Shire has plunged, and there are anecdotal reports that others have been forced to live in their cars or with colleagues just so they can live near work.
‘There is an urgent need for a policy circuit breaker to enable the supply of low to high-end rental and ownership accommodation opportunities outside the current inflated free market…’ the report states.
‘Although Council is poised to deliver shovel ready solutions, it is unable to do so easily due to the state planning framework and the constraints in which local government operates…’
In response to this challenge, the report suggests that Council advocate for policy changes so that councils can ‘directly facilitate development through planning, providing land, and offering subsidies to developers’.
This would ‘provide the private sector with the certainty that it needs to invest confidently in the region’.
However, such changes are unlikely to be supported by those locals who feel the current Council is too pro-development and who do not wish there to be any more housing built in their town.