Planning for the sea- change deluge
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