A NOOSA Heads property lot which carries significant biodiversity values and has been carefully tended by neighbours over many years, will no longer be considered as a site for social or affordable housing.
And Deputy Mayor Frank Wilkie pointed out the proposed housing would have entailed only a single five-bedroom house on the site, pointing out that a high number of bedrooms in existing social housing in Noosa Shire were not being properly utilised.
Residents of neighbouring properties to 30 Toulambi Street, adjoining Pinaroo Park, appealed directly to councillors at the February 14 General Committee to leave the site to nature and their ongoing care.
David McCready, Goetz von Schweinfurth and Jan Davey, representing the residents, most of whom have experience in animal rescue or horticulture, gave passionate speeches to councillors, adding weight to a council investigation which found the site “contributes to the local sense of place and liveability for these residents”.
There is also a nearby flying fox colony which could impact on any new residential development.
Deputy Mayor Frank Wilkie motioned that further investigation of the Toulambi St property cease, and called for a meeting with federal MP for Wide Bay Llew O’Brien, to discuss the bigger issue concerning the end of the National Rental Assistance Scheme (NRAS), which was axed by the Abbott Government in 2014 with tenants gradually being ousted from the scheme.
“The five-bedroom house planned to provide state-funded social housing on this site needs to be seen in the broader context of the 392 state-owned social housing dwellings that already exist in the shire,” Cr Wilkie said.
“Of them, 47.82% are considered large dwellings, with three or more bedrooms. However almost 80% are households of only one or two people.
“Seventy-three are listed as under-occupied with at least two spare bedrooms.
“By conservative estimates this means there are at least 150 unoccupied bedrooms in social housing properties in Noosa Shire.”
He said there were 43 properties with one person in a three- or four-bedroom dwelling.
“It’s understandable why many would be outraged if we were to clear much loved parkland and depart from all that makes Noosa different, for a gain of five social housing bedrooms when at least 150 are currently not occupied or used for similar purposes,” Cr Wilkie said.
He said the NRAS scheme provided rental properties at 75% of market rate to over 1000 properties in our region.
“That’s an estimated 2400 people.
“The advice from a government officer working in housing and homelessness is there are 870 in Sunshine Coast, 18-20 in Noosa and 140 in Gympie Shire.
“This scheme is due to phase out [through] to 2024 and will deepen the national housing affordability crisis.
“These subsidised properties provide a lifeline for the people we are seeking to support, that is working families and individuals.
“Because many of Noosa’s workers live outside our shire borders, a regional perspective is needed here,” Cr Wilkie said.
He urged the federal government and opposition parties to reconsider the scrapping of the scheme in the light of the current housing crisis in the lead-up to the May federal election,
“The phasing out of the NRAS scheme is an opportunity for either side of the House to reconsider or replace the scheme.”
Councillors voted unanimously to amend the Noosa Plan to include 30 Toulambi St in the Environmental Management and Conservation Zone.