Units too close for comfort, says Gander

THE congestion created by proposals to build 21 affordable housing dwellings on two vacant sites in Bowen will lead to social problems, according to councillor Ron Gander.

Housing Plus has lodged two development applications with Orange City Council.

Ten one- and two-bedroom single-storey brick units with a single garage each, are proposed for a 3085-square-metre battle-axe block in Icely Road backing on to Canobolas Rural Technology High School.

An extra 10 units and a four-bedroom home are proposed for a 5257-square-metre site in Bletchington Street.

Cr Gander is concerned the close proximity of the dwellings will cause tension among the tenants and the area already has several unit developments where garbage collection has proven difficult.

“I understand they’re trying to provide for people with difficulties financially and I applaud that ... but you’ve only got to have two families feuding and the whole complex is in trouble,” he said.

But Housing Plus chief executive officer Karen Andrew defended the development and said there were similar multi-dwelling sites in Orange.

She said unlike social housing, the affordable housing dwellings were for key workers in the community such as childcare workers, police officers and paramedics on low to moderate incomes who will pay rent 20 per cent below the market rates under the scheme.

“I can see the concerns if it was social housing, but these are not,” she said.

“These will be impressive ... and have a totally different feel.

“This is about addressing housing stress and the indicator for that is when people are paying over 30 per cent of their income on rent.”

When the developments were announced last April, Mrs Andrew said Housing Plus would spread the 21 dwellings over three or four sites.

But she said the two sites were chosen to maximise the money spent on the properties and to meet the tight requirements of the federal government’s NRAS (National Rental Affordability Scheme), which stipulated the proximity of the houses to the CBD, community facilities and doctor surgeries.

“North Orange has lots of land available, but it doesn’t meet the criteria,” she said.

Cr Gander said he would not support the development when it went before council.

“They can spend a couple of hundred thousand on another block of land and it would ease the problems,” he said.

The 21 dwellings were expected to be completed by June, but Mrs Andrew said the developments had been pushed back to August partly because of the difficulty of finding appropriate sites in Orange.

Each dwelling will have access to outdoor open space in the form of ground level enclosed private courtyards and patio areas.

According to the DA, the council permits site coverage of 50 per cent.

The total site coverage of the Icely Road development will be 45.6 per cent and the Bletchington Street dwellings will take up 46.7 per cent of the site.

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