Manufactured Homes are Sunk

A creative tiny house compared to a Manufactured House. Photo courtesy ABC

While Tiny Homes are the new trend, “Manufactured Homes” are anathema!

Early this month, 250-plus angry residents of Tallwoods Village and Halliday’s Point converged on the former Taree Council Chambers to view the deliberations of the new MidCoast Council on a development application that was proposing to erect 202 manufactured homes next to Tallwoods Village.

Manufactured homes have been spruiked as a form of low cost housing, particularly for those wishing to down-size their residences. It is also a form of ‘cheaper’ accommodation for those who are over 55, but don’t wish to move to a retirement facility, and who want to avoid the often highly unfair conditions of purchase and residence.

Essentially, these Manufactured Homes are portable buildings that are mass produced in a factory, and delivered to a site where they are bolted together and the services are connected, very similar to cabins in caravan parks.

Affordable?

As a result of the spiralling cost of housing in capital cities, manufactured homes have become a form of ‘affordable’ accommodation, and indeed a necessity, albeit that they are not so very cheap for what you get.

At the MidCoast Council Meeting, Cr Len Roberts, from Tea Gardens, (about 100km from Tallwoods Village) moved that the development application be approved. His rather convaluted statement in support of his motion appeared to rile many in the gallery.

A motion was then carried to refuse the development application, amid a confusing exchange of procedural points and counter points, which could clearly present a serious issue should Council’s decision be challenged in the Land and Environment Court.

While most onlookers were happy with the result, many went away with a negative view of Council and the Mayor’s management of the meeting.

This issue of manufactured homes at Tallwoods came about as a result of a clever developer finding a loophole in the Taree LEP (Local Environment Plan), which may allow for this type of development to be approved on any land zoned R1. Reports indicate that there is a plethora of these developments that are now being proposed throughout the new local government area.

This issue has also uncovered and highlighted several very important issues, or consequences, as a result of the amalgamation.

Rates

MidCoast Council, after being in existence for 18 months, is still operating on three separate LEP’s, and it appears that there has been no attempt at harmonising these polices into one consolidated LEP. Statements made by Council Officers in open meetings suggest that this could be more than three years away, while the residents who do pay their rates have to contend with crafty developers, and defend their environment.

Clearly, there is a need to address this issue as a matter of urgency, but it also raises an even greater question, in that, ‘What else has not been effectively consolidated during the period of amalgamation, and what was actually achieved in the past 18 months?’

MidCoast Council is still operating on three computer systems and, if anyone has tried to phone the council, they’ll know that the telephone service, (and if you get through, customer service), has been inadequate, so what other issues has Council not addressed?

The newly elected Councillors need to conduct an audit of what has been achieved during the amalgamation, how is it working, and what still needs to be done to ensure that we have an effective Council with a road map for the future.

Loophole

The question of Manufactured Homes needs to be resolved urgently, not just the loophole in the LEP, but Council has to develop a very clear holistic strategy as to where these Manufactured Homes estates will be permitted.

It must also address and resolve the issue that the residents of these estates will not be paying any rates nor making any contribution to Council’s annual revenue, yet they will be demanding the same levels of service. Owners of these homes don’t pay rates to Council as they rent the space from the estate owner. The estate owner (or developer) pays a fraction of what, in this instance, 202 individual homes would be paying on separate blocks of land. By comparison,  the owner pays only a fraction to Council for the overall block of land, not 202 lots. This is neither fair nor equitable to the community, and ordinary residents shouldn’t have to subsidise these profit-making enterprises.

Public Outcry

If it is outside the Council’s scope of authority to control the proliferation of Manufactured Home estates, then they should use all the available political mechanisms at their disposal to lobby politicians and the Government to achieve such authority.

Congratulations to the Tallwoods and Halliday’s Point communities for standing up and uniting on this important issue. It is refreshing and an example to us all that we should be prepared to stand up for our rights and not to accept poor decisions thrust onto the community without knowing the full ramifications.

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One Response to Manufactured Homes are Sunk

  1. Annie Mayne says:

    Thank you for another excellent article on Manufactured Homes proposed and already existing in the Hallidays Point area, and planned for other areas throughout the Midcoast Council. I would hardly think these homes could be considered “low cost housing”. Check Gateway’s website, and you will find mnay of these homes are up to $360,000 plus $141 a week for rental of the lot, which you do not own, and maintenance. Hardly “affordable” housing! Their Annual Report clearly states their target market is for retirement people, although to build a retirement village, requires far more building criteria than what is proposed with this kind of development. Thankfully, Councillors overwhelmingly decided against this proposal, and the loophole in the Council’s LEP needs to be carefully considered for the future of many areas through Midcoast Council’s very large area. Public opinion needs to be listened to, and the fact that these home owners would pay no rates is a major factor. Money to improve services and infrastructure which does not currently exist would need to come from somewhere other than current ratepayers.

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