Affordable Housing

Roof Rafter

Housing affordability is a major concern throughout Australia. The NSW Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, has declared it “the biggest issue people have across the state”.

A 2017 International Housing Affordability Survey by Demographia found that of Australia’s 54 housing markets, just four are considered affordable, while many areas are classified as severely unaffordable.

Housing stress is a serious concern for many parts of the Mid North Coast and there is a growing demand for affordable housing among low income earners in our communities. In some areas like Port Macquarie this need is being highlighted by new university facilities that require additional housing for students. In other parts of the region a shortage in affordable housing and social housing wait times of between 5-10 years, and beyond, show a growing need for lower end rental accommodation.

The problem is compounded by the Sydney housing market, as cashed up Baby Boomers and Gen Xers look to our attractive lifestyle and retirement destinations for investment and retirement opportunities. This has the effect of driving up house prices in those areas that are in high demand. Those higher prices are not reflective of the lower incomes that are typical of families living in regional Australia.

Housing is a central component to the stability of an individual, couple or family. The housing market of the Mid North Coast is under pressure to provide more affordable housing to the local population. Regional demographic pressures are adding to the demand for increased affordable housing:

Elderly People

  • There is a high percentage of elderly people across the Mid North Coast region. 21% of people are 65 years and over, compared with the NSW average of 14.7%.

Low Income Earners

  • The median Mid North Coast income is only 67% of the NSW median income.
  • 29% of people over 15 years in the Mid North Coast earn less than $299 per week, compared with only 2.7% across the whole of NSW.

Indigenous People

  • A relatively high proportion of the population identify themselves as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander: 5.1% of the region’s population, compared with the State average of 2.5%.

Rising Housing Costs

  • Rent and mortgage payments are increasing at a higher rate than incomes in the region. Between 2006 and 2011, incomes increased 3.4% per annum, however, the average rental payment increased 6.7% per annum, and mortgage repayments increased 4.8% per annum.

People with a Disability

  • 7% of the population on the Mid North Coast need assistance with a core activity.

Overcrowding

  • There is overcrowding present in many dwellings in the region. For example, 105 households report more than 3 people living in a one bedroom dwelling and 52 dwellings in one council area have 5 people or more living in 2 bedroom accommodation.

Limited Social Housing

  • The current stock of housing on the Mid North Coast includes only 4.3% of dwellings committed as State Housing/housing co-operatives, community or church group housing and there are significant waiting times for general community housing applicants.
Waiting Times for Social Housing on the Mid North Coast
ALLOCATION ZONE 1 bedroom 2 bedrooms 3 bedrooms 4 bedrooms
BELLINGEN 10 + years 2 to 5 years 2 to 5 years 5 to 10 years
COFFS HARBOUR 5 to 10 years 5 to 10 years 10 + years 5 to 10 years
CRESCENT HEAD 2 to 5 years 2 to 5 years 10 + years No properties
DORRIGO 2 to 5 years 5 to 10 years 2 to 5 years 10 + years
KEMPSEY 5 to 10 years 2 to 5 years 10 + years 2 to 5 years
LAURIETON 10 + years 10 + years 5 to 10 years 5 to 10 years
MACKSVILLE 10 + years 2 to 5 years 5 to 10 years 5 to 10 years
NAMBUCCA 5 to 10 years 5 to 10 years 5 to 10 years 10 + years
PORT MACQUARIE 5 to 10 years 5 to 10 years 10 + years 10 + years
TAREE 2 to 5 years 5 to 10 years 5 to 10 years 2 to 5 years
URUNGA 2 to 5 years 5 to 10 years 5 to 10 years 2 to 5 years
WAUCHOPE 2 to 5 years 2 to 5 years 2 to 5 years Up to 2 years
WINGHAM 2 to 5 years 10 + years 10 + years 10 + years
WOOLGOOLGA 5 to 10 years 10 + years 10 + years 2 to 5 years

Table Source: NSW Government Family and Community Services, Housing NSW, Housing Pathways waiting times.

These factors have created a high demand for affordable housing on the Mid North Coast, which includes secondary dwellings.

Secondary Dwelling Checklist

Changes to State Government planning requirements have made it easier to obtain approval for a granny flat. Go through this checklist to see if your proposed secondary dwelling (granny flat) qualifies for 10-20 day approval from your local council as a “complying development”.

Council Zones
Check that the Section 149 Planning Certificate for the property does NOT categorise the property under any of the following areas:

  • Rural zones (RU1 to RU5) and Large Lot Residential zones (R5);
  • Flood Zone;
  • Bushfire Zone (Flame Zone or BAL-40);
  • Conservation or Heritage area.

(If you don’t have one, you can obtain a copy of the Section 149 Planning Certificate of the property for$53 from the local council.)

Yes! The 149 Planning Certificate does NOT list the property under any of these zones. Go to the next question.

No. The 149 Planning Certificate DOES list the property under one or more of these zones. You can’t get approval as a complying development and a DA will need to be submitted to the local council.

Floorspace of the secondary dwelling
Will the total floorspace of your secondary dwelling be no more than 60sqm?

Yes! Go to next question.

No. You can’t get approval as a complying development and a DA will need to be submitted to the local council.

Size of your property
Is your property at least 450sqm in area and a minimum of 12m wide at the proposed site of the secondary dwelling?

Yes! Go to next question.

No. You can’t get approval as a complying development for a detached granny flat, but you may get approval for an attached granny flat. Contact your local council to check.

Setbacks for your secondary dwelling
Will your secondary dwelling have the following setbacks:

  • Setback from the primary dwelling: Minimum 1.8m (otherwise a fire-rated wall will be needed such as brick or other fire-rated cladding).
  • Front setback: Must be the average of the front setbacks of the nearest two dwelling houses on the same road, located within 40m of your lot. (Minimum 4.5m if the property is <900sqm, 6.5m if it is <1500sqm, and 10m for larger properties);
  • Side setback: Minimum of 0.9m from the side boundaries if the property is <900sqm, or 1.5m setback if it is <1500sqm, or at least 2.5m for larger properties;
  • Rear setback: Minimum of 3m from the rear boundary if the property is <900sqm, or 5m setback if it is <1500sqm, or 10m rear setback for larger properties.

Yes! Go to next question.

No. You can’t get approval as a complying development for a detached granny flat, but you may get approval for an attached granny flat. Contact your local council to check.

Distance from trees
Will your secondary dwelling be setback at least 3m from any “significant tree” ?

(Check with the local council for definition of a significant tree. Generally, any native trees over 5m.)

Yes! Go to next question.

No. You must apply to your local council for tree removal.

Total floor space of your property
Will the total floor space your property, including both the primary dwelling, secondary dwelling and any garages, carports, awnings and patios, NOT exceed the following allowed floorspace?

  • 330sqm, if the lot is between 450sqm-600sqm;
  • 380sqm, if the lot is between 600sqm-900sqm;
  • 430sqm, if the lot is over 900sqm;

Yes! Go to next question.

No. You can’t get approval as a complying development either for an attached or detached granny flat, but you may get DA approval if the secondary dwelling is less than 60sqm. Contact your local council to check.

Height of the property
Will the property be within a maximum height of 8.5m from ground level to the highest point of the roof?

Yes! Go to next question. (Be aware that taller buildings, such as two storey buildings, may require larger setbacks. Check with your council.)

No. You can’t get approval as a complying development for a detached granny flat, but you may get approval for an attached granny flat. Contact your local council to check.

Excavation
Will your secondary dwelling be built without exceeding the following excavation requirements?

  • 1m, if it is within 1m of a boundary;
  • 2m, if between 1m – 1.5m from a boundary;
  • 3m, if more than 1.5m from a boundary.

Yes! Go to next question.

No. You can’t get approval as a complying development for a detached granny flat, but you may get approval for an attached granny flat. Contact your local council to check.

Private Open Space
Does the secondary dwelling have a flat outside entertainment area that is at least 4m wide and 24sqm in area, and is directly accessible from a living room?

Yes! Go to next question.

No. You can’t get approval as a complying development for a detached granny flat, but you may get approval for an attached granny flat. Contact your local council to check.

Stormwater drainage
Will the downpipes of your secondary dwelling be connected to one of the following?

  • The existing draining system;
  • A registered drainage easement;
  • An onsite disposal system such as a “rubble pit” in the back yard.

Yes! Go to next question.

No. You won’t get approval for a secondary dwelling.

Landscaped area
After the secondary dwelling is built, will the lot retain at least 25% of the total area as a “landscaped area” such as lawn & gardens. (50% of this must be behind the main dwelling.)

Yes! Go to next question.

No. You can’t get approval as a complying development for a detached granny flat, but you may get approval for an attached granny flat. Contact your local council to check.

SUCCESS! If you got this far then your secondary dwelling should qualify as a complying development and be approved within 10-20 days.

It’s still advisable to double check with your local council and/or builder before proceeding with the application for a Complying Development Certificate. You should also check the fees and contributions that are payable to council for your property address.

Note: You do not need to provide additional parking for a secondary dwelling but it may be something to consider from a practical point of view.

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