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Byron Shire
May 24, 2024

Community land trust group home approved 

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And the organisation behind the project has a development application for two more group homes on the same site ready to roll, paving the way for the location to become Byron’s first community housing hub.

The group homes, to be located on a greenfield site at 66 The Saddle Road, Brunswick Heads, are the first initiative of the Byron Shire Community Land Trust, a not-for-profit organisation aiming to build modest rental accommodation across the Shire.

Each home will provide short-medium- and long-term housing for at least two small single-parent families and two older women.

Power generation, water harvesting, and wastewater treatment

It is intended homes will have their own on-site power generation, water harvesting, and waste water treatment facilities, and will be managed by a community housing provider.

Speaking in support of the application at Council’s last planning meeting on March 28, local developer and housing trust co-founder, Brandon Saul, said the organisation was ready to submit an application for the next two homes.

‘If councillors look favourably on this [first DA] we’ve actually got a DA for two more houses,’ said Mr Saul. 

‘If all goes as planned, we’ll have three homes, a shared vegetable garden, shared living areas… shared solar… [and] wasterwater treatment.’

‘One will be a mix of short-term, medium-term and long-term [accommodation]. One of the homes will be for people who are leaving domestic violence. One of the rooms in the first home is for all abilities.’ 

Donated land

The group homes will be built on donated land using funds provided by four wealthy local philanthropists, with the assistance of the Northern Rivers Community Foundation (NRCF) and Mr Saul’s company, Creative Capital. 

It follows in the footsteps of land trusts set up in the US and northern Europe and attempts to address the Shire’s housing and homelessness crisis by providing low-cost rental accommodation to those who need it.

‘The community probably doesn’t realise this, but the housing crisis is hard-baked in for the next 20 years,’ Mr Saul said. ‘We need hundreds of these things, not one. We’ve also applied for a Housing Affordability Future Fund grant to subsidise the rent for the next ten years [at the group homes].’

‘Everyone sees the visible homeless, men with drug and alcohol and mental health issues. The growing cohort is women and kids and older women, who don’t have those problems. 

‘But we need homes for other people as well. Young people, older men, essential workers. All of them.’ 

Councillors voted unanimously for the DA.

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