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Byron Shire
January 23, 2022

Housing balance

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We need our nurses. Right now, they are the most important workforce in the country. Not politicians or real estate agents or tradies or miners. Nurses. Paramedics. Hospital doctors.

Having been fortunate to live in and own a home in this area for 36 years, I know that development is inevitable.

I have also advocated on behalf of homeless people in the area for 20 years. Affordable housing is crucial. I appreciate the complexity and costs of what is needed to achieve this outcome.

Most of us want to maintain the natural beauty and the lifestyle which attracted us here. We want to protect the environment for future generations. We want to maintain and stay in the community we have created.

I also know that developers have rights too. While there are many who consider the existing neighbourhood and environment, there are others who want to gain as much as possible for themselves at our expense and move on. So, how do we get the needs of all these interests met? 

Since the mandates for the new councillors were predominantly around affordable housing and protection of the environment, this is what the majority of us want. It’s a massive task ahead. So now is time for clear strategies, policies and procedures to give Byron Shire a framework to move ahead and preserve what we love about living here; rather than random new ad-hoc developments in unsuitable areas. 

One such inappropriate proposal is located at 25 Hardy Ave, Ocean Shores. Here, a precedent could be set, as this site is on the edge of a nature reserve, the Capricornia Canal, a riparian zone and a quiet neighbourhood. High density living, environmental impact and decreased amenity will change the character and curtilage of the area. 

I am aware that Council has responsibilities to ratepayers to reduce court costs that come with fighting inappropriate development, however, they also have some power to modify and change the parameters of these developments.

I am hoping we can get it right so it’s a win for us all. No easy job. I am relying on the new councillors’ experience, expertise and values to create this map forward. I trust they can do it.

Penny Cooke, Friends of Capricornia Canal

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