Byron Shire Council will consider how carparking lots can be better used to address a major issue in the shire.
Byron Shire Council will consider how carparking lots can be better used to address a major issue in the shire.

How council could help to address region’s housing crisis

BYRON Shire Council will consider using “lazy land” to help boost the number of available and affordable homes in the shire.

In his mayoral minute at the February ordinary meeting, mayor Simon Richardson called for the council to offer in-principle support to facilitate the establishment of “diverse, lower cost, and accessible housing on council-owned carparks” without decreasing the number of available carparking spaces.

His motion, supported unanimously, also called for the council to invite housing providers to a session to “ascertain requirements, possibilities and challenges for establishing housing above council carparks”.

That session is to be followed by a formal expressions-of-interest process.

Cr Richardson said at the meeting this arrangement would ideally be through a 50 year lease, so the council could “maintain the ownership” and “potentially have a bit more input”.

“It’s all about adding value about what’s called, colloquially, lazy land,” Cr Richardson said.

“Can we throw something on top of that space without impacting the amount of cars in particular?

“I’ve spoken to people who are convinced it can work.”

Cr Richardson said the biggest impediment for low-cost housing in the shire was the price of land and he saw this as a chance to “circumvent that main obstacle”.

“The social and economic benefits could be really exciting so let’s explore it,” he said.

Cr Cate Coorey said the term “affordable housing” could be misleading as it technically referred to anything that’s priced at 20 per cent below market value.

She said even that even decrease on Byron’s sky-high property prices “isn’t really affordable for most people”.

Cr Alan Hunter said the proposal was “commendable”.

“I think this I probably one of the best ideas we’ve had in the whole term of council,” Cr Hunter said.

“The one thing that’s against this sort of housing is it’s not that suitable for older and more incapacitated people but then not everything is.

“I think the idea of the concept is great.”



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