Housing needs for the 21st century

LAST week we had a story about a shop-top space in Lismore's CBD being converted into a three-bedroom apartment and how Lismore City Council was encouraging similar developments as part of their CBD revitalisation strategy.

I am a big supporter of the idea of bringing more people into town as it seems to me it would have several beneficial knock-on effects. More people living in town would translate to more support for businesses in town and increased safety. There would be less need for cars as people would be able to walk from homes to their place of work and you might even be able to find somewhere to eat or get a coffee on the weekend.

Cities all across the world have experienced this kind of revitalisation. I saw first-hand my old hometown of Melbourne undergo a dramatic increase in city living in the 1990s and I have recently come back from a holiday in Darwin where I was astounded by the number of high-rise apartment buildings that have been built in the past decade. Lismore has some lovely shop-top spaces that are crying out for some attention to convert them from disused storage spaces into liveable and loveable apartments.

This week we have a letter from Lismore City Councillor Graham Meineke, who is also a town planning consultant, saying he has had several clients wanting to do just that, who have been frustrated by council staff. Hopefully the tide is turning and developers will be supported in their efforts in the future, not just for shop-top housing, but all sorts of innovative housing that addresses Lismore's needs.

This week we have an "Imagine Lismore" piece by Alan Gordon (see page 12), a housing designer who says we need to address the fact the standard three-bedroom home doesn't suit many living situations. Lismore City Council's Housing Strategy recognises young people and old people are not served well by existing stock and we need to diversify the types of housing available. As a university town that also has an ageing population, this would seem a no-brainer.

This week Lismore City Council approved the next stage in developing North Lismore Plateau for what could eventually be 1500 new houses. Let's hope sensible planning prevails and we build a range of housing for the 21st century.

Also this weekend, the council's 26-person citizens' jury is discussing its vision for the future (see story page 9). Let's hope affordable, appropriate housing is part of that vision.

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