Garth Luke, Mullumbimby
Why do we always focus on adding new buildings when the conversation turns to affordable housing?
Byron Shire is full of three and four bedroom houses with only one or two bedrooms that are occupied. We are ignoring a large source of appropriate housing for people in these larger, under-occupied houses.
However, the answer is not to encourage more share housing. Few people, especially older people, would be comfortable with that. The answer is to assist home owners to separate their large house into a primary and secondary dwelling and thus make much better use of our existing housing stock. This can also be done at much lower cost and environmental impact than building a separate additional dwelling in the back yard.
This would provide more convenient and affordable housing, improve the incomes of many real estate rich but income limited home owners, reduce the cannibalisation of garden space, and help to build relationships and reduce loneliness in the Shire.
Byron Council could do a lot to make it easier for owners of larger houses to split their homes into two dwellings. This would include broad promotion of the option, providing a free design service, minimising compliance rules, expediting planning approvals and reducing Council consent fees. At the moment we are just wasting our most valuable resource in the provision of affordable housing.