Byron Shire Council will sell land in Mullumbimby to North Coast Community Housing.
Byron Shire Council will sell land in Mullumbimby to North Coast Community Housing. Christian Morrow

More affordable housing to become available with land sale

THE unanimous decision to sell a vacant block of council-owned land in Mullumbimby has opened the way for a groundbreaking opportunity to achieve a range of social outcomes for the community.

Mayor Simon Richardson said the decision to sell the vacant land on Station St to North Coast Community Housing meant a much better outcome for the Byron Shire because now a mix of housing options would be delivered to better meet the needs of vulnerable people in our community.

Plans for the 3200sqm property include the development of 25 one-bedroom units, with a mix of affordable housing and market-value housing.

"To really appreciate what a great outcome this is for the community, you need to go back to 2014 when council first resolved to sell the land as four blocks to the highest bidders, who could then have built up to two units on each block. A large fig tree on the land was also to be removed," Cr Richardson said.

"Yes council would have received money for the sale of the land but there was no social outcome for the community.

"Compare this to the outcome we have now for the community and the result is fantastic - council gets market rates for the land, there will be six units that provide affordable housing to vulnerable people and a further 19 units that will be privately owned but still fill a niche housing gap, and the grand old tree will remain."

Six of the units will be managed by North Coast Community Housing and set aside for affordable community housing, which will fill a significant gap in the market for single people vying for the shire's minimal stock of one-bedroom, low-maintenance properties.

"What is great about this outcome is that the remaining units, which while they will be sold at market value, are in demand in our community by people like single, older women and men who desperately want to have some security about their housing," he said.

"These people often don't have the money to afford a house or larger unit, but a one-bedroom place will be within their reach financially.

"The icing on the cake is that six of the apartments will be offered with rents at less than 80 per cent of market rent in perpetuity, and this is significant when you take into account that it is normal for this type of arrangement to only apply for 10 years.

"This is a great result for the Byron Shire and I am really proud of the work staff and councillors put in to get this outcome."