Plan­ning for the sea- change del­uge

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Prime Space -

IF you were asked to profile your typ­i­cal per­son mak­ing a sea change — swap­ping a har­ried ur­ban lifestyle for a stress- free one on the coast — you’d be for­given for think­ing su­per­an­nu­ants best fit the bill.

Not so, ac­cord­ing to ar­chi­tects Stephen and Nanna Le­siuk, quot­ing Aus­tralian Bureau of Sta­tis­tics data show­ing that 79 per cent of peo­ple mov­ing to our high- growth coastal re­gions are 50 years of age or younger.

The Le­siuks de­signed the lux­ury re­sort- style Sea­grass Vil­las at Ocean Shores near By­ron Bay with the mod­ern sea- change pur­chaser in mind — peo­ple who also have very par­tic­u­lar as­pi­ra­tions.

‘‘ Peo­ple are widely trav­elled and are much more knowl­edge­able in their lifestyle de­mands, and so re­quire a di­ver­sity of hous­ing op­tions,’’ Stephen Le­siuk says. ‘‘ They want to be able to use their en­vi­ron­ment and en­joy the lo­cal life with­out hav­ing to use their car.’’

Sea­grass is a 16- home eco- minded de­vel­op­ment next to a golf course, with a com­mu­ni­ty­based plan at its core.

‘‘ It pro­vides that strong sense of be­long­ing and com­mu­nity- mind­ed­ness that peo­ple are seek­ing to­day, sim­i­lar to the no­tion of a coun­try club,’’ Le­siuk says.

‘‘ We are well aware of the trends sur­round­ing coastal liv­ing and be­lieve that Sea­grass caters ideally to th­ese lifestyle re­quire­ments.’’

Ap­par­ently the typ­i­cal per­son shift­ing to the coast is some­one who’s look­ing for a bet­ter cli­mate, af­ford­able hous­ing, less traf­fic con­ges­tion and has a yearn­ing for vil­lage life, he says.

‘‘ Coastal buy­ers are plac­ing greater em­pha­sis on fam­ily, com­mu­nity val­ues and sta­bil­ity.’’

Those are all de­sir­able ideals, but the big prob­lem is that Aus­tralians are look­ing for a sea change in such huge num­bers that the sea­side idyll isn’t nec­es­sar­ily one that will be eas­ily found be­yond the bound­aries of one’s own home or de­vel­op­ment — re­gard­less of how lux­u­ri­ous or eco- friendly it is.

As the Na­tional Sea Change Task­force ( NSCT) de­tails in a dis­cus­sion pa­per re­leased in May: ‘‘ Coastal coun­cils and their com­mu­ni­ties are at­tempt­ing to deal with ex­tra­or­di­nary pres­sures but do not have suf­fi­cient re­sources to keep pace with in­creas­ing de­mand as­so­ci­ated with growth. As a re­sult, there is a sig­nif­i­cant back­log of un­met de­mand for com­mu­nity in­fra­struc­ture and ser­vices in th­ese com­mu­ni­ties.’’

By the end of last year nearly 6 mil­lion peo­ple were liv­ing in Aus­tralian coastal ar­eas out­side the cap­i­tal cities — up 1 mil­lion on 10 years be­fore.

It’s es­ti­mated that an­other mil­lion are plan­ning the move within the next few years.

The Na­tional Sea Change Task­force was es­tab­lished in 2004 as a ‘‘ body to rep­re­sent the in­ter­ests of coastal coun­cils and com­mu­ni­ties ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the ef­fects of rapid pop­u­la­tion and tourism growth’’.

To put it an­other way, how­ever well de­signed and lux­u­ri­ous a de­vel­op­ment or a com­mu­nity may be, it’s still part of a wider coastal com­mu­nity that’s likely to be un­der enor­mous pres­sure in com­ing years.

Pro­vid­ing the in­fra­struc­ture to meet this in­creas­ing de­mand is the big is­sue fac­ing all states and ter­ri­to­ries.

A key way sug­gested by the NSCT to al­le­vi­ate the pres­sure is the adop­tion of a ‘‘ more uni­form and eq­ui­table approach to de­vel­oper con­tri­bu­tions’’.

‘‘ What is re­quired is a con­sis­tent, na­tional approach to de­vel­oper con­tri­bu­tions based on the prin­ci­ple that the private sec­tor is re­quired to pay a fair share to­wards the cost of in­fra­struc­ture re­quired to sup­port the com­mu­ni­ties re­sid­ing in newly de­vel­oped res­i­den­tial hous­ing de­vel­op­ments,’’ the NSCT’s dis­cus­sion pa­per says.

‘‘ De­vel­oper con­tri­bu­tions should in­clude a com­po­nent to ad­dress coastal pro­tec­tion in­fra­struc­ture re­quire­ments.’’

Mak­ing a sea change is so at­trac­tive be­cause it of­fers op­por­tu­ni­ties for an eas­ier, more pleas­ant lifestyle in beau­ti­ful nat­u­ral sur­rounds.

Yet in an ever more pop­u­lated coast­line this is not go­ing to be a con­tin­u­ing re­al­ity un­less steps are taken to in­te­grate ‘‘ the en­vi­ron­men­tal, so­cial and eco­nomic well­be­ing of the Aus­tralian coast­line and its com­mu­ni­ties with the timely fund­ing and de­liv­ery of hard and soft in­fra­struc­ture’’. www. seachange­task­force. org. au

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