The housing crisis is still a hot topic. It is a shame there is not a lot of action as yet. Here is a quick rundown of some recent events and activities centred around the ongoing housing debate.
BSC Housing Seminar
On Friday 17th of June, Byron Council hosted a housing seminar at the Byron Community Centre. There was lots of good information from an illustrious panel. Forgive me for being cynical but I have been to a number of these events where good info is shared and some solutions are canvassed but moving into the implementation stage is where the problems start.
A couple of the panellists had interesting projects to talk about. One was a couple from WA who did a presentation on their ecovillage development at Witchcliffe, a town just south of Margaret River. Local developer Brandon Saul has partnered with social impact investors and will be including some of these ideas in his sustainable, affordable home project at Saddle Road, Brunswick Heads. Brandon wants this project, where the old Brunswick Eco Village was, to be a demonstrable model than can be duplicated in the shire to help solve our own diverse housing shortage.
There were two very experienced urban planners on the panel: Rod Simpson and Andy Fergus. Andy Fergus’s presentation was able to articulate the problem we are in and even provide a map of a solution. You can see the map by going to the website, clicking on writing and then opening the graphic called Assembled Papers, Redesigning the Housing Market.
Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation
The NRRC is a new entity initiated by the Perrottet NSW government to assist the seven Northern Rivers LGAs with flood remediation. It has the power to compulsorily acquire and subdivide land, fast track approvals on buildings and infrastructure. The CEO is David Witherdin, a senior government administrator.
Local councils in the NR are encouraged to approach the NRRC with proposals and projects. Lismore council and their local state member Janelle Saffin is grabbing this opportunity with both hands. Here in Byron Shire, in the absence of any news to the contrary, it is easy for locals to think that Byron Council and our local MLC member are sitting on their hands and not taking much action at all. You can learn more about the NRRC here. If you missed it, you could also look at the previous article on this topic.
Dual Occupancy on Community Title
Secondary dwellings on rural titles in Byron Shire have been allowed for a few years now with a lot of take-ups. The Northern Rivers Intentional Community organisation has successfully lobbied the council to also allow the same on Community Title properties – but unfortunately, it was not extended to Multiple Occupancies. The policy is on public display and open to submissions here. The NRIC is asking for shareholders on MO’s to get involved make submissions to the council and have this easy and accessible avenue for more immediate housing.
BSC and Landcom Car Park proposal
The only affordable housing council initiative in process ATM is on the council-owned car park at 57 Station St. Mullumbimby. Byron Council and Landcom, the NSW Government’s development agency, have an agreement to develop up to 29 one and two-bedroom studio units above the car park. The project got unanimous support from Byron Shire Councillors, but predictably it is getting push back from local residents and business owners. More info here.
It may have been smarter to use the Council chamber’s own car park further south along Station St which may not have gathered as much resistance. Also, Byon Council is using a lot of political capital on such a small outcome when the problem requires a much larger solution.
Other housing models to tackle to housing debate:
The Singapore Solution
Recently I posted a podcast from Elephant in the Room interviewing Cameron Murray. Here is his whole proposal for a housing plan called “House Mate” that is based a lot on the Singapore public housing model. 81% of all dwellings are built by the HDB – Housing Development Board. This is well worth a read as it is a clear road map from existing models overseas that can be introduced here.
Tiny Homes in Noosa
Noosa Council is looking at approving a tiny house development in Cooroy. The 6 acres block in the Noosa hinterland has the potential for 34 small modular homes. Approving a tiny home is complex, difficult and different in all states and many shires. This is something that needs to be looked at by all tiers of governments and the demand for tiny home living is only going to increase. Read more here.
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