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Byron Shire
May 8, 2021

Housing crisis and Council

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Avital Sheffer, Mullumbimby

Population growth in this Shire is inevitable like it or not. Those who are being pushed out by the unfolding housing tragedy are long-term locals and their children along with their skills and small businesses, which is resulting in a rapid erosion of the traditional social fabric of this society. The crisis is not going away and while emergency response is imperative we should keep our focus on finding real and affordable housing solutions.

Council’s recent planning proposal submitting rural CT and MO communities to a de facto prohibition on secondary dwellings comes across as prejudicial and ill thought out in the current climate.

With so much housing stress in the Shire and the mad scramble to construct secondary dwellings in towns and on rural freehold properties, why close down this option on communities?

Managing change holistically means that we have to re-examine old concepts, controls, maps, and measures that were historically adequate and assess them afresh. We need to look at what is available locally, can be easily implemented in the short and medium term with minimal dependency on high-level government.

Rural intentional communities with their environmental repair and enhancement obligations and their history of providing socially inclusive, affordable accommodation seem well-placed to be part of a comprehensive solution. Singling them out from other rural properties for a restriction on the ability to construct secondary dwellings is unproductive and there appears to be little compelling argument to do so.

In agreement with Heather Martin (Echo7 April) it is imperative that secondary dwellings do not end up as holiday lettings.

While in recent years Council has placed consent conditions on secondary dwellings that stipulate that they not be used for the purpose of short-term holiday letting, in many cases this has been abused, in part for lack of external monitoring.

CT and MO communities with their well-established self-governing mechanisms are well placed to implement and monitor this restriction effectively, thus ensuring that whatever potential housing stock can be provided would be available to the sector most in need.

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