Sharing land

Sharing land is a way that people can be more effective in achieving their social, environmental or economic goals. It can provide a means of experimenting with urban design and can be used educationally to open others to new possibilities.

Social

Lone person households are increasingly becoming the most common household type in urban Australia, and the trend is predicted to continue. Shared landholding provides a means for people to gather together in like-minded neighbourhoods which they can design themselves in ways which are more likely to avoid the social isolation experienced in many modern urban environments.

Environmental

Localisation and community action are increasingly being seen as important responses to the challenges of climate change and peak oil. Shared ownership of land provides the opportunity to design low-impact neighbourhoods, where people live and work together in ways which both contribute to mitigating the causes of climate change and can adapt to the impacts of climate change and global resource depletion.

Economic

Housing affordability is getting to a point where it requires more than a two-income family to afford to buy a home. Shared ownership provides an avenue to make home ownership affordable. Lower housing costs also mean that people do not need to spend as much of their time focussed on earning money - allowing them to spend their time on activities that improve quality of life, both for themselves and the communities in which they live.

 

Challenges for landsharing communities

Landsharing communities often own the land upon which the houses are built through a corporate entity such as a co-operative or a company, but sometimes the land is owned jointly by the individual members of the community.

Planning provisions for landsharing communities vary widely across Australia, particularly in rural and regional areas.

In Victoria, for example, they fall within the definition of "residential village" which can be approved at a council level in both urban and rural zones.

In NSW, only a handful of councils have the provisions to approve rural landsharing communities at a council level. The NSW Government is currently phasing out its "rural landsharing community" policy which previously permitted them in about one third of rural municipalities. In urban areas, councils often have the power to approve "multiple dwellings" in high density residential areas, but in few other situations.

Because the land is owned collectively, loans cannot be secured against individual homes. Homes are often not available on the open market but are only available to people who have been accepted for membership of the community. Lenders are usually not interested in securing loans against assets which cannot be liquidated quickly in the event of a default in repayments.

Partly because of this, these communities have frequently been owner-builder communities, with members constructing their homes from savings and as they go as their income has permitted.

Home building law under which owner-builder permits are issued varies from state to state, and its interpretation has also varied from time to time when it is applied to landsharing communities.



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