Our say | Getting the mix right to plan for the future

THE great Australian dream of the quarter acre block seems to be getting upsized in Bathurst.

Lifestyle blocks are becoming the new flavour of the month as landholders on the edge of the city seek to subdivide their properties.

The latest development application to come before council concerns historic Littlebourne on the O'Connell Road.

The DA submitted by Voerman & Ratsep Surveyors seeks to subdivide the grand old property into 17 one-acre lots, offering new buyers the benefits of both country living in easy access to a major regional Centre.

But Littlebourne isn’t the only old property being carved up.

Yesterday the Western Advocate reported on negotiations surrounding the subdivision of Macquarie, another historic O'Connell Road property.

While the Macquarie subdivision – approved last year – falls within the Oberon Council area, it also comprises one-acre blocks on the outskirts of town.

Such subdivisions make perfect sense from a selling point of view, but also an historical point of view.

It is an expensive exercise to maintain the region’s grand old homes and, in the case of Macquarie, the historic convict barracks that also stand on the property.

And while there is a broader community benefit in retaining bricks and mortar links to the past, the reality is that the financial burden always falls on the private owners.

So if carving up the surrounding property as to happen to fund the maintenance of some of our region’s oldest homes, then that seems a reasonable price to pay.

The people who buy those blocks certainly won’t be complaining either. In many cases they will be tree changers from Sydney who will marvel at just how much house and land they can buy with the money they make from selling their Sydney home.

Those same buyers are used to commuting for an hour to get to work in the morning so a 20-minute trip to the CBD of Bathurst is nothing for them.

The challenge for all councils is to offer an expanding population an appropriate mix of housing densities to cater for all choices.

Living 20 minutes from town won’t suit everywhere but there is clearly a market out there clamouring for this option.

For the rest of the population there will be new quarter-acre blocks in Eglinton and Kelso or even apartments in the centre of town. They’re all part of the mix.