An example of an affordable housing project planned for Brisbane.
An example of an affordable housing project planned for Brisbane.

Urgent push to find affordable housing options

Noosa must not rush into making over-the-top town planning changes which favour developers as it pushes ahead to stem its affordable housing “crisis”.

That is the warning from Cr Amelia Lorentson on Thursday night at Noosa Council’s ordinary meeting.

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Councillors have unanimously backed Mayor Clare Stewart’s push to negotiate with state and local community housing to achieve a mix of public and private affordable accommodation.

Council will conduct an audit of council land holdings to identify what sites might be available for social housing.

“Among other actions it involves changes to our planning scheme,” Cr Lorentson said.

“We must act cautiously and with eyes wide open, planning processes can have significant planning implications and affect the wider community.

“It’s critical therefore that we ensure any changes to our planning scheme achieves our desired outcome of affordable housing and it does not provide opportunities for more density, or concessions on building heights for developers,” she said.

Ms Lorentson wants cheaper housing initiatives to target Noosa’s key workers in hospitality, health care, retail, police, teachers, firefighters, lifeguards and child care workers.

“Without them, this town does not function,” Cr Lorentson said.

Cr Brian Stockwell said this council action may be a small trigger to larger state government investment for appropriate accommodation.

Noosa's affordable housing stocks are few and far between.
Noosa's affordable housing stocks are few and far between.

“Social housing is no longer for the most marginalised,” he said.

“At a recent conversation down the footy club there was a mum who’s brought up their children in Noosa.

“They just got engaged, they’re looking at buying the first house, he’s a mechanic, she’s a nurse, they can’t find anywhere north of Nambour,” Cr Stockwell said.

He said the council, in its draft planning scheme, had set a direction that on two large land development sites 20 per cent of houses and units had to be dedicated to social housing.

“The state government planners in their wisdom could not see how that met the state planning policy,” Cr Stockwell said.

“They took the view of a developer centred approach to that assessment and wouldn’t let us approve it,” he said.

A report to council showed the median price of housing in Noosa had risen from around $500,000 in 2008 to more than $700,000 in June this year.

In comparison, the Sunshine Coast median prices rose from $450,000 to around $600,000.

Cr Stewart said the Department of Housing and Public Works owns more than 180 detached houses in Noosa, a few duplexes and approximately 20 unit blocks.

“Little new public housing stock has been added in recent years,” she said.