Homeless crisis: Council and MP at odds over approval stats
Coffs Harbour City Council and our State MP Gurmesh Singh are at odds over the rate of development applications being processed in recent years.
When it comes to the region's homelessness crisis, Mr Singh says there simply aren't enough homes being approved.
He has reiterated the need for local councils to open up more land and focus on approving new developments to increase the supply of homes on the market.
"Even families on two incomes can't find a place because there aren't enough new ones being approved."
He was recently criticised for implying on local radio that the crisis was predominantly a local council issue.
Mayor of Bellingen Shire Council Dominic King 'choked on his cornflakes' when he heard the comment.
Bellingen Shire Council has been proactive in working with various community groups and private organisations to see how vacant buildings or other spaces can be utilised.
Mr Singh says the State Government is responsible for social housing and that NSW is leading the way in expenditure per capita in that sector.
And now Coffs Harbour City Council has defended its track record of development approval rates after Mr Singh indicated it was below par.
"In the twelve months to August 2019 approximately 565 dwellings have been approved in Coffs Harbour and in the twelve months before August 2020 only 322 were approved so that's down 243," Mr Singh said
"That could be for any number of reasons but when you look at comparable councils like Port Macquarie approvals are higher there in both years."
But Council's Director Sustainable Communities Chris Chapman says more recent figures show an increase in determinations during a very busy period.
"The twelve months to August 2020 obviously covers the start of the pandemic and the first wave of COVID-19 which impacted activity right across the region, with every North Coast council having declining figures," Mr Chapman said.
"However, since August 2020 we can tell you we have determined 413 development applications which equates to a 30 per cent increase on the corresponding period 12 months ago, which is part of the busiest development assessment period we have had in the last decade."
Also, in December 2020, he says the NSW State Government approved Council's Housing Strategy (Local Growth Management Strategy - Residential) acknowledging that Council has enough zoned land to meet the forecast housing needs of the city.
"As always, we look forward to working with the State Government to deliver on that," Mr Chapman said.
Mr Singh says it's not just the approval process but community reaction to various high density proposals in recent times.
"In Woolgoolga for example there were around 100 new units that may have been approved last year if the community hadn't stood up against them."