Let’s take a short dip into how Mayor Michael Lyon intends to ramp up urban development in the Byron Shire.
For those unaware, Council are being squeezed by the all powerful NSW planning department to produce a framework/pathway to enable 5,825 new homes to be built by 2041.
At their August 10 meeting, Council did what they were told, and promised they would meet, or exceed, those targets.
While Council’s supplementary agenda outlined the housing template, it also contained correspondence that outlines the mayor’s desires to upscale development.
Given the mayor is not particularly forthcoming with his grand visions, it offers an insight into how he thinks the Shire should be developed.
His letter to NSW planning minister, Paul Scully on June 23, outlines those visions.
Regarding vague, secret plans to sell valuable public car park for ‘affordable’ housing units in central Mullum, the mayor advised Scully that Council ‘are offering the freehold on the site to a community housing provider which will see a mix of 32, one and two-bedroom units and studios built’.
Cr Lyon wrote, ‘This will result in all of these dwellings being 100 per cent affordable housing, in perpetuity, apart from four units, which Council will use in order to provide for staff to ensure that we can hire for key positions within Council, which has become increasingly difficult’.
Height limit increases
The mayor also told Scully that a recent Council motion proposes to increase the height limit to 11.5m on the old Mullumbimby hospital site, which is, ‘a first for a residential area in our Shire’.
He said, ‘This could give a yield of up to 150 dwellings when completed’.
Affordable Housing Contribution Scheme
A newly adopted policy aimed at providing a guaranteed ‘affordable housing’ component within new greenfield developments was also spruiked to Scully.
Cr Lyon told him: ‘We will also see in the coming days the first planning proposal lodged under our Affordable Housing Contribution Scheme, which will see up to 50 dwellings provided on land dedicated to Council under the scheme. We are the first regional council to achieve such a scheme’.
Reversing decades of community sentiment around state imposed over-development, Cr Lyon also told Scully: ‘There are barriers at a state level, which exist that prevent us from delivering adequate housing, including the targets set by the North Coast Plan, which are, in my view, under what they need to be.’
Regardless of what appears a clumsy push to develop at all costs in a biodiversity hot spot, perhaps we should be thankful that Council are trying to solve a ‘affordable housing’ problem.
Yet without a clear pathway, any transparency, and a poor track record thus far, it’s hard to get behind their ‘solution’.
Hans Lovejoy, editor