Byron opens doors for rural dual occupancy
Luis Feliu

Byron Shire Council is considering allowing rural properties to have a secondary dwelling under a proposed key policy change now on public exhibition.

The move could open the door for owners of hundreds of illegal secondary dwellings around the shire to apply for development approval for granny flats, studios, bails and sheds which are lived in but unauthorised, as well as new secondary dwellings.

Over a year ago, neighbouring Lismore City Council allowed rural landowners to apply for detached dual occupancy, with secondary dwelling having to be within 100 metres of the existing one.

Lismore councillors overwhelmingly voted for the change, which they saw as a critical step for the continuation of farming in the region by allowing farmers with diminishing incomes a second income stream from a rental property.

Byron Shire Council’s general manager Ken Gainger said yesterday that allowing for secondary dwellings in rural areas ‘can increase the range of housing options throughout the shire, develop regional communities and assist those living in rural areas by making their properties more viable’.

‘It can also provide opportunities to legitimise unapproved dwellings and structures in rural areas so as to meet regulatory building and safety standards as well as resolve effluent disposal and bushfire management issues,’ Mr Gainger said.

He said that across the shire over the years, ‘plenty of people’ have wanted to build a secondary dwelling.

Council will now consider the impact of permitting detached dual occupancies and secondary dwellings on rural zoned land.

‘However there are infrastructure issues relating to roads, water and sewage and access to services that also need to be considered. Therefore Council is keen to hear from the community before making any final decisions on the proposed changes,’ Mr Gainger said.

The planning proposal is currently on exhibition until 4pm Friday, 16 January 2015