Mayor's granny flats fears

Byron Mayor Cr Jan Barham likes the idea of ‘granny flats’ providing affordable housing across the Byron Shire – with a big ‘but’.

And that ‘but’ is the fear that some people will use a new State Government affordable rental housing policy to build ‘granny flats’ and then holiday let them.

Cr Barham said while the government was cutting red tape to provide an opportunity for affordable housing, there needed to be regulations in place to ensure ‘granny flats’ were used for the purpose for which they were built.

The government’s new policy allows for ‘granny flats’ no bigger than 60 square metres to be built in residential areas.

However, it remains unclear what the level of developer contributions will be for such flats.

A report to last week’s council meeting said under present rules, those contributions at Byron Bay could be as high as $26,450, making ‘granny flats’ less affordable.

The report also said if the council were to reduce the contributions for ‘granny flats’, it would also have to resolve the holiday let issue, otherwise it would be providing a subsidy ‘for an inappropriate use’.

Cr Barham said she would like to know what positions other councils had adopted on the issue.

She said the council needed to construct some guidelines so it could meet affordable housing needs.

There also needed to be regulations in place to ensure ‘granny flats’ were meeting those needs and not being used for holiday lets.

A report clarifying developer contributions and comparative information from other councils will be presented to the council in May.

It will also have recommendations on mechanisms to ensure ‘granny flats’ built under the new government policy will be used for affordable housing.

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