Byron Council will forge ahead with plans for an affordable housing development on a Council carpark in Mullumbimby despite criticism that the project is being undertaken on an inappropriate site and ‘doesn’t stack up financially’.
Council has been working with the government-owned development corporation, Landcom, on the plan that would see 32 one-and-two-bedroom units built at 57 Station Street; land that is currently in use as a car park in the centre of town.
The plan hit a snag earlier this year when it emerged that no community housing providers were willing to accept Council’s offer of a 49-year lease to run the project.
Instead, two housing providers submitted non-confirming tenders that assumed they would own rather than just manage the land.
When the matter came back before Council at the last meeting, a majority of councillors voted to reject the non-confirming tenders.
But they elected to persevere with the plan, noting that a meeting to discuss alternative ways of moving forward financially will happen later this month.
‘It hasn’t gone according to plan so far in terms of the tender process but we are working through it,’ Mayor Michael Lyon said.
‘I’m committed to working this through with affordable housing in perpetuity. Things do hit snags from time to time, but we will, I think, get there in the near future.’
However, Greens councilor Duncan Dey strongly disagreed, saying that the project had been a poorly conceived idea from the start and was now ‘failing’.
‘The need for housing is massive and we’re putting a huge amount of effort into something that’s failed,’ Cr Dey said.
‘This project got its guernsey as a project that was housing on top of a carpark but it’s not, it’s housing instead of a carpark. And there’s no arrangement for the parking which will be lost to be replaced.
‘We’d be far better off if we looked at a site that was appropriate for affordable housing.’
‘It’s also flood prone, a we saw a year ago.
‘And, the evaluation report shows that this project doesn’t stack up financially. Financially it won’t happen and I believe we should be looking elsewhere to create affordable housing, and simply scrap this one.’
The matter is expected return to Council in June or July, where new options will be considered.
I just don’t get why, with parking already so difficult in Mullumbimby, they couldn’t put this across the road on the old train station site, or ANYWHERE other than take away another 30 car spaces!!! It’s already takes 2-3 laps around town to get a park.
I really don’t see this as a well thought out project. Surely locals deserve to be able to pop into town to grab something from IGA or Santos or Mitre 10 without it having to be a major “Where’s the jolly parking space” exercise!!??