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Affordable Housing - What is the true cost of the decisions we make

Byron Shire's stakeholder led Affordable Housing Summit considered the hard questions and a path to address the dynamics and unique challenges of affordable housing in Byron.

Over 120 people attended the summit that featured speakers on best practice Australian housing types and models, tenure, security and planning.

Mayor Richardson said that attendees took different things from the day, but for him there was two key messages.

"One was the description that compared to ten years ago, the problems are worse but the solutions now exist," he reflected.

"And as a 'glass half full' kind of person, I'm focusing on the second part of that sentence.

"Currently solutions exist. It's a matter for us to research, identify and enact on the solutions that best fit Byron Shire. That's our challenge and opportunity," he said.

The second message that Mayor Richardson spoke about was highlighted by social enterprise company Nightingale (

"It was the concept of putting a true cost to a choice," he said.

"Whether that simply be, do you want a laundry in your own unit with the extra cost and space requirements, or whether you would rather share a laundry, save money and have more space for living. It is only after weighing up all the costs that one can make a more informed choice.

"In Byron Shire for example, we may be asking the question if we want apartments next door to us, or not.

"The true costs are what we need to identify, consider, agree upon and move forward. What is the cost to our community to do it. What is the cost to our community not to do it.

"We crucially need to have a mature and reflective conversation in the next twelve months to work out what are the true costs of the decisions that we make, or not make. And do they sit with our community values."

Mayor Richardson said that following on from the Summit, the Byron Shire community has work to do.

"Our residents and councillors came together at the end of last year in an open forum to discuss affordable housing. Friday's Summit allowed us to hear from experts what was possible.

"These two events will put us on track for further development and final agreement on how we can meet the affordable housing challenges before us.

"Our community's role over the next twelve months is to journey alongside Council to investigate, debate, agree, finalise and celebrate the completion of our rural land use strategy.

"What should happen where in our rural lands. And the same applies to our residential strategy.

"We are in this together and we need to find a way where we can keep conversations like this as the 'normal'. And adversarial competition becomes rare.

"The opportunity we face is to design liveable communities that reflect who we are and become a place for those who inherit our decisions, to celebrate Byron.

"We need to be about ideas, but also strategies to underpin those ideas. We have a lot of work to do and our Council is committed," he concluded.

The speakers at the Affordable Housing Summit were recorded and will be available on Byron Shire Council's website over the coming days:


Media contact:

Media Communication Officer
Byron Shire Council
Ph: 02 6626 7320

Byron Shire is located at Australia's eastern-most point with a population of almost 29,000. It is a thriving community where residents and visitors live, work and play in a sustainable environment and where Council strives to deliver the highest standard of local government services and infrastructure.