Byron Bay is in such high demand that rents are continuing to rise and forcing locals out of town. But Byron Shire council has a plan.
Byron Bay is in such high demand that rents are continuing to rise and forcing locals out of town. But Byron Shire council has a plan.

What council is doing to keep locals in Byron

TO COMBAT demand and high rental prices negatively impacting Byron Bay locals, mayor Simon Richardson says the council is doing "all it can" to address its range of housing challenges.

Core Logic data recorded in December revealed Byron Bay had the most expensive rents in the region with an estimated median rent of $882 per week.

It further revealed Byron had the lowest rental growth rate in the region with a five-year annualised growth rate of 0.4 per cent and five year total growth rate of 2.2 per cent - a clear reflection of how much demand there is to live there.

"We are working hard to try and create some diverse housing to keep locals here and to keep the diverse community intact, but we need community input," Cr Richardson said.

"When more people live in places of high demand, the prices go up and often those who have traditionally lived there are unable to stay there."

He said the fact Byron was culturally and socially different coupled with being in a good location meant that difference would naturally be diluted.

"In a sense, we are caught up in global play which isn't of our making which has a lot of negative impacts," he said.

"Our location and uniqueness are part of a global trends and that makes it hard. It's really sad when we have great locals who find it hard to stay here."

To provide lower cost housing and lessen the impact of the housing challenges on locals, Mr Richardson said the council was "looking to enhance any diverse housing options on our own lands".

"We've got a space to potentially realise, maybe 100 or more lots near Mullumbimby, where we would keep control of it and try to develop ecologically sustainable development at a price point locals can afford," he said.

Another option was the development of some eco housing on Vallances Road in Mullumbimby.

"We will know in the next couple of months, ultimately how many lots could be on that site and share with our community the different ownership or governance and development options we have for it,' he said.

"My kids have the right to try and live here, as well we need to be able take a bulk look into how we can manage housing if we hold onto the ownership and it's not profit-based but community-based.

"We'd love the community to acknowledge that intent and work alongside us and see what we can and can't deliver."

Mr Richardson said the council was also looking to provide some housing at the Mullumbimby Hospital for seniors which was more accessible and at a lower cost.

He urged the Byron community to get involved in addressing Byron's housing challenges.

"The community needs to make tough decisions, we have to hard conversations about housing and make decisions about where we want it," he said.

"We have to ask ourselves as a community are we also courageous enough to manage issues rather than roll over and accept them or just ideologically oppose everything.

"We all need to play our role - I wish I could have a magic wand from a council perspective and create the housing that poor community needs - but we just need to do what we can within our parameters of possibility."