Affordable housing added to space

A NEW state-of-the-art creative industries village planned for Byron Bay is back before the Byron Shire Council this week.

The 68-dwelling development on Bayshore Drive includes a raft of community facilities, as well as 3500 square metres of boutique retail and office space.

It was originally approved in 2009 but, on suggestions from council, the developers say they have revised the application to address the need for affordable housing in the shire.

For local architect Dominic Finlay-Jones it is a project close to his heart.

“A defining aspect is every house has a workspace – this is the future – and the developers realise there is a market for people who want to live in slightly more industrial flats,” he said.

“I live in Bangalow and have my office under my house and I think this is more the way that people are going to work in the future, especially those in the creative industries.

“It's something I've worked on the last four years with a large local team of people and we're all emotionally invested in it and we want to see it get up – it is something that Byron can really use.”

While reluctant to put a price on “affordable”, Mr Finlay-Jones is confident the development will achieve that status because, unlike other “affordable” projects in the past that have skyrocketed under market forces, he believes the affordability is built-in.

“It's about smaller houses on smaller blocks, that's really the only way to make it more affordable – to make it smaller and use less resources,” he said.

“That's the approach the developers have taken, to allow for a whole lot of different plans that can work on small blocks.”

While similar creative-industries/housing concepts have been successful in cities around the world, Mr Finlay-Jones believes it's Byron's time.

“I think there was probably a culture of this in Byron some time ago, but because of land prices and other things it's become increasingly harder to do. But this is a genuine attempt to develop a creative industries hub,” he said.

“We're expecting another four to six weeks on the approval process and then there's a lot of really intricate environmental work that needs to be done first, so we're looking at 12 months for that.”

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