Displaying items by tag: affordable housing

News Around the Traps


Are You Living in a Heritage Home?

Many people in the shire do not know they may be living in a heritage-listed property. All of Bangalow and Mullumbimby central is a heritage area. In  Mullum, if you live west of the railway line, south or east of the river, or north of Saltwater Creek, your house may have restrictions or even a full conservation order on it.

Bangalow residents are more aware of the town’s heritage listing as most residents are obviously committed to maintaining it’s rustic charm. This is ironic as in the early 70’s, the shire council wanted to eradicate all the overhead verandas throughout the shire as they were dangerous and kept in bad repair. At the time Bangalow was so broke it could not afford to remove them so just refused to do it. That’s the only reason why Bangalow was lucky enough to maintain the charming pioneer style residents and tourists appreciate so much today.

Byron Shire Council is offering a “Free Heritage Advice” session on 18 August. If you have any questions or want to understand more about your property, contact Noreen Scott on 6626 7062 and make an appointment.

Masterplan Progress

Look out for the pop-up chat rooms in Byron, Mullum or Bangalow. Each of these towns are at different stages of a masterplan development and council is giving an overview and asking for community feedback. Please don’t be one of these annoying people who do not participate when community consultation is offered and then have nothing but bile when the proposals are presented.

Farming Out The Farm

The good people at The Farm are currently under pressure. It may be they have been too successful for some neighbours and competing businesses. As you can see from the car park driving by it is almost always full. They wish to enable the restaurant Three Blue Ducks, plus Flowers at The Farm, The Produce Store, Farm Kids and Farm Tours and all the organic food growing to continue to operate as they do currently.

They are asking for people to write to council to support their DA. Address it to Byron Shire Council, PO Box 219, Mullumbimby, NSW 2482 and tell them why you appreciate all the work The Farm is doing. Especially the community and charity work. Or write an email and send it to community at thefarmbyronbay.com.au.

Brunswick Fish Co-op

There is some controversy around with whats going to happen to the Brunswick Fish Co-op. The police has been shut down unexpectedly and staff have been let go. Maybe it could be handled better but this building and business could probably do with a makeover. Many of the old fish co-ops up and down the coast of been reinvented and they often turn out to be excellent establishments - still catering to a mum and dad fish and chip shop, while still providing a full compliment of restaurants and shops. Lets hope they do it well in the end.

Sustainable House Day

Applications are now open for the annual Sustainable House Day Expo. These are very popular events and highlight our local area’s creativity and expertise in sustainable house building and design. This year it will be held in Tweed Heads on September 16. If you want to enter a design or concept you can find the application form google it at sustainablehousedaynr. Or just turn up and see for yourself.

Discussions on Alternative Housing Options

Thursday 10th of August at the Brunswick Picture House there will be a discussion on all of the shire's alternative housing projects. It is being put on by the Green Institute which is a national progressive think tank promoting community cohesion. It is $20 at the door which will include a meat or veto meal, drinks will be available, but bring your own alcohol. Tickets at the door. 

Then on Wednesday 16th of August there will be the second meeting for Social Habitat Housing. This is for the people interested in becoming residents at the proposed Tiny House/Land Lease Community starting in Mullumbimby. It will be at the Mullumbimby RSL 5 - 6.30 PM. For more information on this, go to the website at shh.socialhabitat.com.au. 

Heritage Train to Start

The 2 km train trip from Elements Resort to Byron CBD is progressing and will be up and running by December. The Byron Bay Railroad Company, and Elements of Byron, is owned and operated by coal baron Brian Flannery of White Energy. When the project began it was to be a heritage, two carriage diesel train but has now converted to solar power and is the first solar powered train in the world. There are solar trains in India but they only power the lights and fans.

Mr Flannery is not the only coal baron putting an eco gloss on their activity in the shire. In a valley near Federal, the ex co-owner of Whitehaven Coal (remember the Nathan Tinkler debacle), has been attempting to recreate the big scrub by regenerating over 600 acres of degraded grazing land. 

How They Do It In China

Resident action groups in Byron Shire are often active and successful in protecting the shire from rampant development. They should consider the plight of Chinese homeowners, residents and community groups opposing plans for new works. Lack of democracy in China certainly makes it easier for local government to get things done as this example shows.

The city of Chongqing, which has a population of 8.2 million, recently installed a two-lane road running across the rooftop of a five-storey, mixed-use building. But if you thought that might be noisy, spare a thought for the residents of another building, which has a light railway running through its 6th-8th floors – pictured here.

 Byron Bay Writers Festival

The BBWF starts is on this weekend and for anyone who has not participated you are missing out. It is the biggest and best literary festival in regional Australia and well worth the time and effort. Get lost in good conversation and interesting discussions. Kids day is on Sunday and they love it. Google the website and get a ticket.


Yes Minister, affordable housing. No problem!

Yet again, affordable housing is a hot topic. Anybody would think that something will be done soon but I doubt it. This would involve people actually making a decision that is going to upset people. We can’t have that!

Every politician involved in this issue is reading from the script of the popular BBC series “Yes Minister”:  If you want to show concern for an issue but plan to change nothing, here’s what you do: hold an inquiry, string it out as long as you can and, at the end of it, find an unpopular minority (In Oz, read Chinese) to blame for the problem – and then recommend holding another, more in-depth, inquiry.”

The new NSW Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, has learned the script well. She says solving the housing crisis is her number one issue but rules out reviewing stamp duty, which is a state government cash cow. The Federal Government has a leading role in this sit-com as well. It makes it a big issue but refuses to look at negative gearing. Even our local Byron Council is getting into the act. A well-orchestrated talkfest is being planned for this Friday Feb 10 at the Cavanbah Centre. Looks like our rates are being well utilized on flights and accommodation for well-paid speakers to take minor, walk-on roles in this mini-drama with a long season but no resolution.

The property industry, of which I am a part, but hopefully an honest member, continually prattle on that it is all just a matter of supply. Again, this is self-serving as the HIA (Housing Industry Association) wants to keep rolling out suburban subdivisions and high-rise apartments to keep its members happy. Since they have been pushing supply for years and prices keep going up, they should give it a rest, as it’s obviously not the magic bullet they claim.

So enough hand wringing and belly aching, what are some solutions. Lets go through a few options, but will involve making some decisions:

-       The federal government allows negative gearing for new dwellings only, or only one or two investments properties. At least this will target what Negative Gearing is supposed to be doing, which is to encourage the private sector to provide affordable rental dwellings and not help build investor property portfolios.

-       The state government can eliminate or reduce stamp duty (and other revenue raising taxes) so buying property is not so expensive.

-       Adjust pension asset tests so downsizing baby boomers selling the family home will not be slugged so hard. This would free up a large number of suburban properties being under utilized

-       Free up planning regulations so more in-fill development provides housing for singles or couples

Local and regional councils could use caravan park/manufactured home estate planning to provide low cost options for retirees and singles

-       Use incentives and building public transport to encourage growth in rural and regional centres

-       Follow the Private Public Partnership model, which is a success and being looked at by Treasurer Scott Morrison during a recent UK visit. There, the Housing Finance Corporation is given low interest loans, backed by the government, to provide affordable rental property. 


Your Choice: A Home or Smashed Avocado

Love this! For those who missed the house price controversy doing the rounds last month, here’s a catch up. Demographer and columnist in The Australian, Bernard Salt, came out lambasting millennials and Gen Y hipsters. He said if they want to save the deposit for a house they should give up buying $22 serves of smashed avocado at trendy cafes.

He ended up with a food fight on his plate with social media lighting up. The property-challenged generations retaliated stating the obvious that it would take 22 years and 8000 serves of Smashed Avocado to save 20% on the $890,000 median priced, Sydney home.

Meanwhile, cafés in Sydney have responded by offering ‘home saver specials’ and some lenders are now promoting ‘smashed avo mortgages’. It’s even gone global, with the BBC offering comparisons for buyers in Hong Kong, New York and London.

Here in Byron it will take even longer to buy a home by not eating out at breakfast. I checked with hipster central here in Byron at the Roadhouse Cafe. Their avo on toast is only $12 compared with the $22 per plate of “Smashed Avocado with Crumbled Feta on Five-grain Toasted Bread” featured at somewhere like Bondi Beach.

As regular readers know, BPS is a firm supporter of getting more sense into the Oz real estate market and a better deal for renters and first home buyers. The point he makes is valid, saving for a home takes work and dedication, but he was frivolous in suggesting all it takes is better menu choices. It does take younger generations going to social media and wherever they can find a platform to make their case.

I was interested to see a few things surfacing that may help in the future. It seems the greedy baby boomers are hogging the empty family home and not moving out in a timely fashion to make room for the next gen. It has been suggested the reasons are two fold: there is no suitable mid size property that suits and the present asset testing is prohibitive. If an elderly couple sell their home and make it liquid they will sacrifice the pension. 


Unfortunately, our federal treasurer ScoMo, recently delivered a major speech on this vexing issue. The response Mr Morrison's talk to the Urban Development Institute of Australia was met mainly with scorn and ridicule. It was in similar vein to his predecessor Mr Hockey's advice, "Get a job, Get a job that pays well". He basically passed the buck to the states and ducked any responsibility. Looks like nothing is going to be done in this space for a while. 

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