House model on human hands with dollar icon.
House model on human hands with dollar icon.

HOUSING FIX: Granny comes DA-free

WITH affordable housing a rarity in the Clarence, has one part of the solution been hidden right under our noses?

The humble granny flat is nothing new, but it may surprise people in some circumstances lodging a development application is not required - and you could be free to build in just 20 days.

The State Environmental Planning Policy (Affordable Rental Housing) 2009 ensures granny flats built to within 60 square metres can be considered a 'complying development', bypassing the DA process.

Since 2014, there are no minimum site areas and can include garages and carports, provided they too comply with the SEPP.

However, for those thinking they might capitalise on the Federal Government's Home Builder Scheme, think again. The new program does not include the construction of granny flats.

While granny flats may not be appropriate for any more than two people, they can be a viable option for singles or couples on a low income.

Similarly, they provide an option for older people looking to downsize.

Clarence Valley Council director of Environment Planning and Community Des Schroder said the council supported the construction of second dwellings.

"We are right in favour and these instruments recognise that granny flats can be a form of affordable housing and should be encouraged," he said.

"And you don't get charged for any of the section 64 or 94 developer contributions - the water and sewage connections are free as you would be using the existing system."

Mr Schroder stressed would-be developers should make sure there was adequate room on the lot and consult their neighbours.

While new granny flats have not been as popular as flats, dual occupancies and manufactured home estates, which have all increased across the Clarence in recent years, Mr Schroder said it was important to have diversity.

Particularly when considering people's preference to "age in place", providing for people wanting to downsize while remaining in their community was a key issue.

He cited Junction Hill as somewhere this was currently harder to achieve.

"You need a range (of options) for people, especially with an ageing population," he said.

"If you want to age in Junction Hill, at the moment you have fairly big houses and not many options of going into smaller units.

"Basically if you want to downsize, you have to move."

The biggest movement in the sector was happening with manufactured housing estates, which provided an opportunity to own smaller homes at an affordable price, however, the land is leased from another party.

"What the market is doing now is the MHE, rather than the granny flat, but it is another viable option," Mr Schroder said. "But the biggest demand in the Clarence Valley is still for a single stand-alone lot, for its own house, and that is down to land affordability."

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