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Will Noosa’s new housing strategy deliver?

Will Noosa’s new housing strategy deliver?

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Posted July 22, 2022
Noosa Plan 2020, Town Planning

Noosa Shire Council is tackling the housing crisis head-on with a new Draft Housing Strategy.

In Brief

  • 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 first step Council took was to endorse the HNA report. Council has now taken the second step and developed a Draft Housing Strategy, which is now subject to community consultation.

draft housing strategy

Noosa Shire Council’s Draft Housing Strategy aims to address the pressing housing crisis impacting the region.

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.

We encourage everyone to review the draft housing strategy and then lodge any relevant comments or concerns via the community feedback portal.

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;
  • QShelter;
  • 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.

Conclusion

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.

To the crew at RG Strategic, we cannot thank you enough. We engaged RG Strategic to help us bring our dream project to life, the Noosa Sportfishing Lodge. They lodged council applications for our short term accommodation approval and Liquor license applications with OLGR. What we thought was going to be a battle, became a seamless process with positive results in a most timely manner. RG Strategic are like the Tug Boats in a sea of aircraft carriers....moving swiftly and decisively, turning on a dime, delivering results with no fuss.

Sonja Boric
Noosa Sportsfishing Lodge - Noosa North Shore
Star Star Star Star Star

Russell and the team at RG Strategic went above and beyond to ensure a smooth and efficient application and approval process on our townhouse development in Cooroy. Russell helped solve significant stormwater issues by coordinating meetings and correspondence with the Councils engineering team ultimately leading to operation works approval far quicker than our program allowed for. I highly recommend Russell to anyone seeking planning advice on the Sunshine Coast.

Josh Overell
Belvedere on Pearl - Cooroy
Star Star Star Star Star

Russell Green from RG Strategic really helped us when it came to council approval of a location for our business, HIIT Australia. He is extremely forthcoming and easy to deal with, and his knowledge and professionalism are second to none. We recommend everyone who needs help with council applications or general town planning issues contact Russell immediately – you won’t be disappointed!!

Sam Duncan
HIIT Australia - Birtinya
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We engaged Russell Green and RG Strategic Town Planners to navigate us through our past approvals for liquor licence, food premises and town planning. The teams experience in understanding Councils processes demonstrated to us a thorough and intimate knowledge of development planning and liquor licence requirements. Coupled with this, their network of connections which run deep through all tiers of government and industry. Experience, knowledge, and connections allows RG Strategic and Russell Green to stand head and shoulders above the mob of development planners on the Sunshine Coast and I cannot highly recommend them more.

Pete Thomas
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