Plea to council over dual occupancy

LISMORE City Council's "outmoded" policy on dual occupancy developments may bankrupt East Lismore single mum Chloe Allan, who is facing the sale of her house at a loss because she can't afford the mandatory $20,000 contribution.

A desperate Ms Allan shared her story with councillors on Tuesday night, prompting a passionate debate in the council chambers, with Cr Gianpiero Battista calling for a special exemption for the full-time working mum.

Chloe Allan may have to sell her home because she can’t afford the council’s $20,000 dual occupancy contribution.
Chloe Allan may have to sell her home because she can’t afford the council’s $20,000 dual occupancy contribution. Contributed

Ms Allan first found out about the section 94 and 64 public infrastructure charges when she applied to have her home, which houses two tenants downstairs - one of whom is undergoing chemotherapy for bowel cancer - legally approved for dual occupancy.

She already pays substantial rates on the six-bedroom house, which was modified to accommodate separate upstairs/downstairs living areas.

Not including the development application itself, the required contributions total some $20,000.

"I used all my savings to buy my ex-partner's share of the house under the assumption that is worth so much because I could rent that space out," Ms Allan said. "It was making affordable housing for me and my tenants and my daughter and now we're all going to be effectively out on our ear."

Ms Allan said the policy was at odds with the NSW Government's Affordable Rental Housing policy and also with other Northern Rivers councils.

Cr Simon Clough, who introduced a motion calling for an urgent review of the section 94 and 64 policy, said the policy "worked completely against" affordable housing and was lagging behind neighbouring councils such as Byron Shire.

Cr Battista and Cr Graham Meineke went a step further, calling for immediate action.

"We shouldn't just expedite a review of the section 94 and 64 contributions; we should waive them altogether for this type of development," Cr Meineke declared.

Councillors voted down an amendment to allow an exemption for Ms Allan, with councillors Isaac Smith, Vanessa Ekins and Neil Marks arguing it would create a dangerous precedent.

The motion for an urgent review into the contributions was passed unanimously and has been scheduled for September.

But for Ms Allan, it may all come too late.



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