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Byron Shire
August 16, 2022

Better land use

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Comments by Damian Kassabgi need to be applauded regarding better land use in our region.

As an architect I am often confronted with the impossibility of building adequate accommodation for those who live in granny flats, with the currently imposed 60m2. 

Adding another 30m2 (or even as little as 15m2) as suggested in the article would provide far better accommodation for those now required to live in these buildings, whether they be a solo granny or a family. 

We seem to be creating the equivalent of the old upstairs and downstairs accommodation where the affluent live in the big house and the servants in the granny flat. 

An extra bedroom is the cheapest part of a house with no additional plumbing or kitchen required. 

Creating more density in our region without overdevelopment would use existing infrastructure like roads, sewers, water pipes, and parks without the need for extensive augmentation of these networks. 

As we sprawl across our beautiful, productive, and often bio-sensitive natural environment we destroy not only our fragile ecosystems and food production infrastructure but also the very reason many came here. 

Currently in Ballina Shire and Kingscliff, among other places, houses and buildings are incessantly marching across gorgeous land with buildings which often have lots of style but little practical substance. 

One of the main obstacles to overcome is proper block shaping with a change in emphasis from a broad east-west axis to a longer north-south block axis. Two and one storey houses with the main rooms facing north in north-south axis block permits blocks to be as small as 250m2 and still permits the design of correct orientation and solar aspects, together with adequate private spaces and good access. R2 zones in Ballina Shire could easily be cut up to provide more density without destroying privacy and good design. 

Also, in our communities we have lots of leftover space including huge roadway verges, space between/behind/in front of houses, and height for an additional one storey, which could be cleverly repurposed.  

Graeme Barr, Lennox Head

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  1. Graeme,
    I think we need a total rethink of housing. I think cluster housing with shared common space is a better option.
    Reducing the block size so most of the environment is roofs & gutters seems counterproductive. I also think we need to build housing with common walls so we get better use of space (I think the 900 offset is not necessary.)
    There is a need for solar access however, so the E-W slopes on roofs are good for solar installation.

  2. Doug,
    Thanks for the reply. We need lots of debate about housing types in the northern rivers. Shared common space is good in my opinion.
    A common party wall saves space but unfortunately doesn’t allow good ventilation around the house. The party wall however does reduce maintenance of side walls, which is good.
    I agree wide eaves right around takes up too much space and windows and doors need targeted awings to provide rain and sun shelter, much cheaper too.
    There are plenty of 10m wide N/S blocks at the Belongil and some in Kingscliff but mostly they face E/W in Kingscliff creating cold and hot East and West internal spaces with little north orientation for passive solar control. However they do have small gardens front and back which many people like. Many of the blocks in Kingscliff, streets like Seaside Drive, have 250m2 blocks, well utilised but with poor north passive solar design in a some instances.
    Houses at the Belongil on N/S axis blocks have the length of the house indented to allow courtyards through the house, also giving north solar access to the spaces further back. The combination of house and recessed gardens works well. My first house was in this area on a 10m wide block.
    A 10m wide block permits a roof width of about 6-7m sloping up from the north which permits 5 solar panels a row giving plenty of room for 15+ solar panels in 3 or more rows.


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