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Byron Shire
April 1, 2023

Creative definition of affordable housing before Byron Council 

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Concept drawing of farm stay buildings at Saddle Road.

Will Byron’s planning rules once again stymie an attempt to address the Shire’s housing affordability crisis?

A development application (DA 10.2020.574.1is (again) coming before this week’s planning meeting, which attempts to use ‘farm stay’ accommodation to provide affordable housing for students enrolled in agriculture-related courses.

Submitted by Greens councillor candidate, Matthew O’Reilly, the application is for six self-contained cabins and a shared central facility at 219 Saddle Road, Brunswick Heads.

Mr O’Reilly is proposing that two of the units be used for temporary affordable housing 12 months of the year, and that the remaining four be used in this way for a minimum of nine months a year.

Matthew O’Reilly. Photo Tree Faerie.

Narrative challenged

‘This proposal challenges the narrative that only tourism can occur in rural zones and not affordable housing’, Mr O’Reilly previously told The Echo.

But the plan appears to have hit a solid brick wall in the form of State and local planning rules, at least as they are being interpreted by Council staff.

They have recommended that Council impose a condition that students and others can only live in the accommodation for a maximum of three months.

‘Farm stay accommodation must be on a short-term basis’, Council’s manager of sustainable development, Chris Larkin, said in the staff report on the application.

‘By its definition, farm stay accommodation cannot provide accommodation for a person as their principal place of residence – it is only for tourists and visitors.

‘Therefore, to satisfy the definition under section 54A of the Fair Trading Act, the accommodation can only be provided for up to three months and the condition is reasonable.’

In slightly better news for Mr O’Reilly, the application appears to have overcome road access and safety issues, which led councillors to defer the matter when it came before them earlier this year.

‘It is considered that the matters relating to access and egress from the site can be appropriately managed,’ Mr Larkin said in his report.

‘The driveway entrance is to be designed and constructed to direct traffic northwards towards the Gulgan Road Interchange, and for traffic to approach the site for this development from the same direction’.

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