Granny flat debate no small issue

GRANNY flats occupied the minds of Coffs Harbour City councillors almost exclusively at this week's council meeting.

The councillors spent all but 10 minutes of their one-hour meeting on Thursday debating the pros and cons of removing developer contributions for secondary dwellings.

These are small-scale backyard constructions, which must be less than 60 square metres and currently cost $7000 to $10,000 in developer contributions.

Mayor Denise Knight scolded some councillors for their unquestioning enthusiasm for the proposal put forward by Cr Mark Sultana to add to the local stock of affordable housing.

DEADLOCK: Coffs Harbour Mayor Denise Knight.
DEADLOCK: Coffs Harbour Mayor Denise Knight.

"This is a really big thing," the Mayor said.

"I am really shocked that you are willing to do this without a report and more information.

"Usually we ask for a report for two flies walking up a wall."

The Mayor used her casting vote to break a deadlock which saw four councillors in favour and four opposed.

Cr Garry Innes, who had become ill earlier in the day, was absent from the meeting.

The councillors have now deferred a decision pending a report to be brought back to council at the earliest opportunity and before the end of the financial year.

Cr Sultana showed figures demonstrating the stimulating effect of removing developer contributions in other local government areas like Byron Bay and Port Macquarie.

Cr Sally Townley presented statistics showing that 27% of the Coffs Harbour population was receiving Centrelink benefits; 25% of residents were over 60 years old; the average wage of $40,000 was below the national average and the unemployment rate of 8.5% was above average, yet only 5% of the city's housing currrently comprised one-bedroom dwellings.

Among those in the public gallery listening to the debate was specialist granny flat builder Tayla Burns, who modifies shipping containers into affordable housing.

He said he had "a line of people knocking at the door" who wanted to move forward with granny flats but could not afford to do so, including one man who had been stalled for two years.

He said some wanted extra income, others wanted housing for family members.

"In Chatswood in Sydney, you don't pay any developer contributions for work under $100,000."

Topics:  coffs harbour coffs harbour city council granny flats

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