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October 23, 2021

Objections raised over CT, MO dwelling restrictions in Byron Shire

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Byron Shire Council are seeking to prohibit secondary dwellings on MOs and CTs.

A new group promoting intentional communities on multiple occupancies (MOs) and community titles (CTs) is calling on councillors to reconsider staff’s hard line proposal to prohibit secondary dwellings on all MOs and CTs by Byron Shire Council.

MOs and CTs are a unique living arrangements suited to those on low to middle incomes. In these arrangements, large rural land parcels are managed by a company, whose directors inhabit the land with dwelling entitlements. Despite the lower entry cost for housing, financial institutions do not generally lend on MOs, but will on CTs. 

Avital Sheffer, from Northern Rivers Intentional Communities (NRIC), told The Echo her new group is a reincarnation of older, now non-active organisations like PAN and the Rural Landsharing Communities Association (RLCA). 

Deeply alarmed

Ms Sheffer said, ‘Council’s amendments to LEP 2014 propose to blanket prohibit secondary dwellings on all MOs and CTs’.

‘It was presented as “minor housekeeping” and has us deeply alarmed. The proposal just went on exhibition and is open to submissions till April 16’.

She told The Echo, ‘We think the proposal, if passed, will strongly impact CTs and some MOs and the community at large, exacerbate an already grave housing crisis, and stress the social fabric of our community’. 

‘These are definitely not “minor amendments” and the public should know.

‘It is part of a complex multifaceted reality that needs to be responsibly studied and addressed.

‘CT lots are privately owned, but communal assets are managed in common. This is where CTs are engaged in large scale ecological repair and most have the adequate social and environmental infrastructure to accomodate secondary dwellings. 

‘Council’s proposal is vague and full of contradictions; it presents the misleading claim that converted Community Title lots were merit assessed for their capacity to sustain a certain number of dwellings. This assessment was never conducted.

‘Also, it claims to not blanket prohibit secondary dwellings on communities, but in the same sentence, conditions the option on consent conditions of communities, which means that no community can have the possibility for secondary dwellings’.

She added, ‘That Council is engaged at this moment in depriving the community of an unexploited source of modest housing that is available, rapid and at no cost to the public, goes against the common good and is contrary to good planning’.  

Buried within ‘Housekeeping’ amendments

The amendments, which were instigated by Council planning staff, are buried within proposed ‘Housekeeping’ amendments, which are available through Byron Shire Council’s website.

To view them, click on ‘Public Notices’ on Council’s home page, then ‘Open for feedback – Housekeeping review LEP 2014’.

The changes are called ‘controls for secondary dwellings and dual occupancies on multiple occupancy and rural community title’.

According to the proposal, the ‘aims’ for the changes are ‘to correct out of date information and achieve desirable planning outcomes’.

Staff say within their justification, ‘Permitting this type of development on rural community titles can significantly increase the housing density of these sites beyond what was envisaged as part of their original approval’.

‘This needs to be carefully considered on an entire site/catchment basis, rather than in an ad hoc manner when a development application is submitted for an individual lot within one of these developments’. 

To have your say, contact planner Sam Tarrant on [email protected] or call 6626 7216.

Take a look at the recently launched Northern Rivers Intentional Communities website.

Tweed Council removed MOs

Tweed Shire Council has actively removed the option of Rural Land Sharing Communities (RLSC) or MOs from their shire’s LEP and are seeking to have themselves removed from the NSW State SEPP that facilitates these types of communities.

One of the reasons put forward by Tweed Mayor Cherry early in March was ‘that because of the changing land values of the region the MO platform is being used by developers to set up large developments rather than facilitating intentional communities of ‘like minded people’ as was the original intention of the development model,’ as reported by The Echo at the time.

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  1. Despite occasionally muttering the “right” words, BSC continues to be utterly useless when it comes to “affordable” housing, the lack of which is only exacerbated by this latest underhand ruling. The claim that “Council’s proposal is vague and full of contradictions” comes as no surprise – it’s been their modus operandi for far too long. At this year’s elections, let’s toss this mob (elected AND appointed) into the sea without a raft. They might make good fish food, but they’re no use as much else.


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