An aerial view of the Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome.
An aerial view of the Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome. DAVID NIELSEN

216 new houses planned for Northern Rivers town

DEVELOPERS have applied to a Northern Rivers council to build a 216-site housing estate in Evans Head and 20 residential lots.

Plans displayed via Richmond Valley Council showed the council was prepared to sell vacant residential-zoned land at Memorial Airport Drive near the Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome to developers Mavid Properties for an 80,840sqm manufactured home estate aimed at seniors and 20 residential lots of 650sqm.

The value of the land was subject to commercial confidentiality.

Affordability for existing home owners

A cover letter for the Oasis Evans Head Unit Trust application said: "In a manufactured home estate, the resident owns the house, but leases the land upon which the house is built”.

Information from the NSW Department of Planning and Environment stated that "manufactured homes can often be purchased for less than $200,000 and are seen as an important affordable housing option”.

But Mavid Properties development manager Peter Childs said "figures of houses vary widely” and gave an example of $550,000 for homes in a similar development at Fern Bay in the Hunter region.

Mr Childs said he expected Oasis houses to be priced somewhere mid-range of the low government figure and those at Fern Bay, but because banks did not generally lend for manufactured homes he didn't "think they [would] be attractive to first home buyers”.

Building jobs on the Northern Rivers

Unlike conventional manufactured houses built off-site and transported in sections, Oasis houses would be built on site in line with draft legislative changes to the scope of manufactured housing.

"We do need to demonstrate the houses have a demountable component to them,” Mr Childs said.

"But I think over the years many people have realised it's very rare to actually move a demountable home and to relocate.

"This will be a better quality of house, a bigger home not limited by transport regulations and something we can build at ground level.

"We would have a lead contractor that we'd place on site but we'd be seeking input from local subcontractors.”

An example of a manufactured house from the Laurieton Residential Resort on the NSW mid north coast.
An example of a manufactured house. Courtesy of Mavid Properties

Club house, pool and bowling green

Designs showed 74 of the 216 lots would be for duplexes/small dwellings on approximately 180sqm while the other 142 ranged between 224 and 235sqm (including lawns).

The ground-level level houses would feature at least two bedrooms, a bathroom and ensuite and a single or double lock up garage in buildings between 120-145sqm in size.

Displayed plans included a club house, pool and bowling green and would need approval from the NSW Rural Fire Service, Office of Environment and Heritage and joint council organisations representing the Northern Rivers region before going ahead in eleven stages.

Mr Childs said the estate would have permanent caretaking staff living on site with services provided under land lease fees that typically cost between $140 and $170 per week but were reviewed annually.

He said manufactured housing was cheaper than conventional retirement villages, partly because no exit fees were charged and also because some senior buyers had access to government rent assistance that could go towards land lease fees.

The developer said it was investigating the option of "bulk” buying electricity, to be "distributed amongst residents via private metering”.

"The land will be owned under a single title [so] there are options for solar panels and wind,” Mr Childs said.

Environmental and heritage impact statements (parts of the historic aerodrome were heritage listed) suggested the project met legal requirements.

The 11 planned stages would begin with 14 of the smaller lots; more houses would be built in each subsequent stage with 57 lots planned across Stages 6A and 6B combined.