Could Multiple Occupancy (MO) housing developments be reintroduced in the Byron Shire as a way of addressing the growing housing crisis?
This is the idea behind a motion to be moved at next week’s Byron Council meeting.
Multiple Occupancies are a particular type of rural development where a group of people pool their resources to purchase a property and then live there in separate homes.
Shares in the property can be bought or sold, but ultimately the land remains in the hands of the community.
For years multiple occupancy – which requires special Council approval – gave locals a way of finding affordable housing within a community of like-minded individuals.
But the model was effectively put out to pasture in recent years, owing to issues with non-compliant development and poor infrastructure within MO properties.
However, at next week’s Council meeting Greens Deputy Mayor, Sarah Ndiaye, will move that Council prepare a report ‘exploring the possibilities, hurdles, and opportunities for reintroducing Multiple Occupancies as a pathway to providing more options for accessible and affordable housing in the Byron Shire’.
‘We are currently in a housing emergency and while in the past challenges presented themselves with multiple occupancy applications, given the current circumstances, they may be part of the solution when it comes to including more affordable options for housing in the hinterland,’ Cr Ndiaye said in written comments accompanying the motion.
‘A report outlining a potential pathway to reintroducing the option and exploring the potential benefits, hurdles and disadvantages that might occur as a result, could benefit councillors in the next term in making a decision as to whether it is an appropriate option.
But Council’s Director of Sustainable Environment and Economy, Shannon Burt said in her written comments on the motion that Multiple Occupancy had already been considered in the preparation of Council’s 2017 Rural Land Use Strategy (RLUS), and only a handful of sites met the site suitability assessment criteria.
‘An early draft of the RLUS identified substantial areas for multiple occupancy and/or community title development, but these were rejected by the State government mainly owing to their distance from nearest service centre/s and substandard road infrastructure.
‘The current State/regional policy framework severely restricts Council’s ability to amend the RLUS for the purpose of increasing Multiple Occupancy or Community Title rural settlement in the Shire.
‘Further, the current LEP map already identifies over 70 sites for this purpose in the Shire. The inclusion of any additional areas can only occur if such land is identified in an amended RLUS. Council’s ability to do this is severely restricted.’