Boomers start to embrace small eco-cottage options

LONDON: Boomers are increasingly embracing small modular eco-cottages as a permanent housing option.

A builder leading a social housing project in the Sunshine Coast hinterland has described the region’s accommodation crisis as “scary” and says there needs to be more action on the ground.

Greg Phipps has been building modular homes since 2007.

Now Noosa Council has accepted and are considering his application to build 34 small modular houses on a six-acre block at Cooroy as part of a private social housing endeavour.

Mr Phipps said he took action after seeing how bad the housing crisis had become in the region.

“There’s just no action on the ground now and this has been going on for so long,” he said.

Mr Phipps said the project would consist of 20 one-bedroom homes and 14 two-bedroom homes within walking distance of the Cooroy town centre.

He said it was not about making money, but filling a need in the community.

“We were getting so many inquiries from the broad public right across the board for affordable accommodation and housing,” Mr Phipps said.

“It just presented itself as a potential opportunity to provide an emergency response to a crisis.

“It’s about providing an emergency response.”

Mr Phipps says the Eco Cottage project on Carpenter Road at Cooroy will be fully self-sustainable thanks to solar power and water tanks.

“Anyone living in the homes will have no bills,” he said.

Mr Phipps said he had already had discussions with not-for-profit groups and registered housing providers to help those most in need.

He said the project would cost more than $3 million and that the rental rates would need to be worked out with the registered housing providers that would put forward prospective tenants.

He said he hoped the project could serve as a pilot for what could be achieved in other areas.

“We made it very clear to council that they wouldn’t be on the private market, we would only deal with not-for-profit organisations,” Mr Phipps said.

“Both St Vincent De Paul and Coast to Bay Housing are very supportive of what we’ve proposed.”

Noosa Council is expected to release a draft plan in the coming days addressing the region’s housing crisis.

“The housing strategy seeks to set a clear plan for housing in Noosa Shire through to 2041,” a council report said.

“The strategy seeks to ensure there is the right amount of housing, of the right type and size, in the right place and with the right tenure, for our community.”

The Maroochydore Neighbourhood Centre said it was seeing between five and six people a day in crisis.

Chief executive Michael Henning welcomed the state government’s plan to build 1,200 social and affordable houses over the next seven years, but said action needed to be taken immediately.

“To just to do this, ‘Woohoo … we’re putting a lot more money and putting more housing on,’ that’s fine,” he said.

“That’s going to be an ongoing thing, but that one-off type situation does not help at all.

Queensland Council of Social Services chief executive Aimee McVee said the announcement was great news.

“Isn’t it absolutely fantastic to see the state government partner with a wonderful community organisation, Brisbane Housing Company,” she said.

“This shows that interest earned out of the housing investment fund can deliver houses for people who are currently experiencing housing insecurity.”

But she warned the 1,200 homes to be built under the plan would amount to a “drop in the ocean”.

“We’re in the midst of a housing crisis,” she said.

“It’s clearly not enough, but it’s a tiptoe in the right direction.”