Will Noosa’s new housing strategy deliver?
Posted July 22, 2022
Noosa Shire Council is tackling the housing crisis head-on with a new Draft Housing Strategy.
- Noosa Shire Council is facing a housing crisis
- Council have developed a new Draft Housing Strategy
- The draft Strategy is now open for community comment
- A Housing Stakeholder Reference Group (HSRG) has been established and has had its first meeting
- The HSRG will work with Council on implementing the Housing Strategy
- RG Strategic Director, Russell Green, has been selected to sit on the HSRG
Noosa is facing a housing crisis
The lack of affordable housing in the Shire has been blamed for keeping out workers and forcing some businesses to shrink or close altogether.
Noosa isn’t the first council to face these challenges as the region’s popularity skyrockets.
Byron Bay faces the same challenges, and in that location, some businesses have taken the extreme measure of bussing staff to work from neighbouring areas.
During peak seasons, some businesses are forced to source staff from further away and put them up in accommodation.
Housing stock pressured
The challenge hasn’t just been created by an influx of new money from metropolitan centres, increasing demand and hence price for housing in the Shire.
It is, for a better word, a perfect storm of a number of factors which include interstate migration due to COVID, some properties through platforms such as Airbnb going into the short-term accommodation market, limited land supplies, underdevelopment of land that has potential for greater density and simply the desirability for those at the end of their working career to seek a place in the sun for retirement.
The crisis will worsen
In December 2021 council endorsed a Housing Needs Assessment (HNA). The HNA identified seven key issues to be addressed in any amendments to Noosa’s Planning Scheme.
These issues are:
- Housing affordability, especially for low-income households and critical workers;
- A lack of accessible or adaptable housing for older people and people with special needs;
- A mismatch of housing size and household size (albeit some may be by choice or circumstance);
- A shortage of affordable and appropriate aged accommodation;
- A lack of housing diversity, particularly smaller dwellings;
- Low levels of social and emergency housing;
- A conflict between resident and visitor accommodation.
We know that housing affordability in the Shire has been impacted. We also know that not enough has been done to accommodate a growing need for housing for our older generation and those with special needs.
The significant finding in the report is the mismatch of housing size versus household size.
The highest proportion of two-person households live in 3 bedroom houses.
The second-largest proportion of two-person households live in 4 bedroom houses. The report does highlight that this may be either through choice or circumstance, but it’s a challenge for Council in any case.
In addition, there’s a need for an additional 6400 dwellings in the Shire over the next 20 years. With limited developable land available, this adds to the challenge faced by Noosa Council.
The HNA report correctly points out the challenges and opportunities faced by Council:
- Meeting the housing needs of residents in the light of competing demand for tourist accommodation;
- Making optimal use of remaining land through smaller lot sizes and minimum density requirements for attached dwellings in some locations;
- Considering new built form controls and any appropriate incentives to achieve objectives while preserving the integrity of the Noosa Plan;
- Exploring new and innovative solutions, some of which may be challenging to accept;
- Considering other ways to pursue housing objectives.
Council acts with draft housing strategy
There is a need for Council to intervene and develop a plan that will accommodate the need for affordable housing and deliver the additional dwellings needed over the next two decades.
The Draft Housing Strategy outlines Council’s role in delivering better housing outcomes to meet the diverse needs of people in the Shire. Council has recognised its role to monitor this challenge; advocate for increased investment in the supply of affordable housing; plan and regulate to ensure appropriate provisioning of housing and housing choice; and partner with State and Commonwealth governments to increase the provision of social and community housing.
Council, however, does also make it clear that it will not become a direct housing provider.
Have your say
You can now have your say on the draft Strategy by accessing the survey form on Council’s website.
Community feedback is sought until 7 August 2022.
Housing strategy outcomes and actions
The draft Housing Strategy outlines several outcomes and actions that will help Council address the housing crisis.
Broadly, these outcomes are:
- Noosa community benefits from industry expertise, best practice and local knowledge in the housing sector;
- Sufficient housing is provided to accommodate the planned population of the Shire;
- New housing is located in areas that are accessible and well-connected to services, employment, and infrastructure;
- Development and redevelopment for housing is diverse, meeting varied and changing needs of people across their life;
- Housing is available for all members of the Noosa Shire community, including individuals and households on low to moderate incomes;
- Housing is well designed and adds to residents’ safety, security and wellbeing;
- Housing is enduring and resilient to natural processes and changes without putting people or property at risk of hazards;
- Sustainable tourism accommodation is facilitated where it is complementary to, and compatible with other land uses, including housing, and maintains a community’s sense of place.
A Housing Strategy Stakeholder Reference Group
The third step was establishing a Housing Stakeholder Reference Group (HSRG), which will work with Council on implementing the Housing Strategy and a range of housing issues.
The HSRG seeks to draw on local expertise and will include representation from a variety of sectors, including:
- State member/s;
- Department of Communities, Housing and Digital Economy;
- Registered Community Housing Providers;
- NDIS Specialist Disability Accommodation providers;
- Residential Care providers;
- Homelessness support services;
- Business and Tourism sector;
- Permanent Rental Property Managers;
- Local private housing developers.
Council has selected RG Strategic owner and director Russell Green to sit on the HSRG as a local town planning consultant and we are excited to be part of this group to help Council promote, shape and implement the new housing strategy.
First meeting outcomes
The first meeting of the HSRG has met, and it was refreshing to see such a broad, representative group come together to tackle this crisis.
We believe that a bold approach is required in order to have an impact on this issue. Nothing should be off the table, including a review of the current planning scheme informed by the population and housing data we already have access to.
We also echo the sentiments of other representatives of the group including:
- Getting information about the draft housing strategy to as many people as possible;
- Council’s response needs to be rapid, but we recognise that a change in available housing stock will take years to appear;
- Many who are affected – renters, low-income residents – will be less likely to participate in the community engagement process so additional attention needs to be given to this cohort;
- The need for community champions to help amplify the message and Council’s response.
Undoubtedly, this housing crisis is one of the most challenging and urgent problems Council faces.
There are inherent risks in addressing a crisis that will play out over 20 years or more by looking at what has been done and what can be done today.
But this is a step in the right direction. Council needs to act and is doing so. The key now is to ensure we can get all the respective parties to the table and make decisions for the whole of the community for today and tomorrow.
Working through the extension to Emilia's Cafe was hassle-free as we worked in with Russell Green and his team of great staff at RG Strategic. Their knowledge of what was required for licensing requirements and project management for a food business was spot on. Great communication, professional and all delivered on time and on budget.
Emilia's Café - Gympie
We engaged RG Strategic to help us with our liquor licence and food licence for our new venue Flo's Creperie in Mooloolaba. Having worked with Russell, Maree and Tracey during the launch of our Noosa venue, we already knew they were a highly professional and knowledgeable team. This time, however, they really went above and beyond, performing a few miracles along the way to ensure we opened up on time. We couldn't be more grateful for their arduous work and commitment. I highly recommend RG Strategic to anyone who needs assistance with planning matters, and I look forward to working with them again in future!
Flo's Creperie - Mooloolaba
Valued Assistance With Town Planning. We experienced considerable difficulty with the construction of a new home on realising the builder of the neighbouring house had constructed a fence and retaining wall that resulted in an encroachment onto our property. The encroachment meant our building plan could subsequently not fit within the house site profile. Despite extensive discussions and negotiations with the neighbour's builder, the matter was unable to be resolved by ourselves. Accordingly, we desperately needed assistance and having dealt with Russell Green, from RG Strategic, in a similar instance, with extremely satisfactory results, we had no hesitation in contacting Russell to draw on his extensive Town Planning expertise and his working relationship with our local Council. At all times we found him to be courteous, understanding, diligent and expedient. There is no doubt in our mind that without his wonderful assistance this matter would have been prolonged more than was the case and perhaps not resolved at all.
I recently had the pleasure of working with RG Strategic and I must say, I am thoroughly impressed with their professionalism, knowledge and expertise. They assisted me with the process of obtaining approval for short term accommodation in Noosa and made it a seamless experience. Their attention to detail and proactive approach ensured that my application was processed smoothly and efficiently, without any hiccups. The team was always available to answer any queries or concerns that I had, and they went above and beyond to ensure that my needs were met. Their level of customer service was exceptional, and I would highly recommend their services to anyone looking for a reliable and competent town planner in Noosa. Overall, I couldn't be happier with the experience I had with RG Strategic and I am grateful for their assistance in securing approval for my short term accommodation. Thank you so much to the entire team for your hard work and dedication!