ALTHOUGH described by Mornington Peninsula Shire officers as being unsightly and a target for vandals, shipping containers are seen by councillors as part of the answer to the “housing crisis”.
The enthusiasm by councillors to allow shipping containers to be used for housing may be extended to continue using them for changing rooms at sports ovals.
Councillors have agreed to a “round-table workshop … to explore all possible pathways and consequences to activate, including but not limited to small secondary dwellings, dependent person units, tiny houses and moveable dwellings within the Mornington Peninsula in response to our growing housing crisis”.
A similar motion to discuss using shipping containers as changing rooms and storage for the “arts community” was defeated, but councillors are tipping this is likely to be overturned.
There are already more than 100 shipping containers at sporting reserves and the shire’s strategic and infrastructure planning manager Katanya Barlow says their use as changing rooms for females “raises the issue of fairness and equity in potentially accepting a lesser standard of services than existing male facilities”.
Replacing the containers with permanent buildings is likely to be too expensive at this stage.
Councillors at the shire’s 7 February public meeting spoke enthusiastically about modifying shipping containers for “small secondary housing” but, on the suggestion of officers, dropped the word containers from their adopted motion.
Cr Susan Bissinger, who specifically referred to shipping containers in her original motion, said council did not “need to look for roadblocks … we need to find loopholes”.
“If it means sticking wheels underneath some things or it means small things that we can do within our local law system to get this up and running, then that is something we should do,” Bissinger said.
Bissinger said making it easier for smaller houses to be installed alongside existing houses could ease the social problems of a shortage of houses and isolation.
“There are a lot of people who live on their own and the trend now is that people don’t move into smaller houses, they don’t downsize, they stay in the house they’ve always lived in.
“A lot of them find themselves in the situation of loneliness.”
Bissinger said people could choose who the extra person in their backyard would: “They’re not just getting a neighbour moving in next door, you have a little more control over it.
“We also have the situation of teenage kids. Everyone knows they’re annoying; everyone knows when they’re getting in their late teens and even early 20s and even mid-20s, they can just drive you nuts.
“But if you have that opportunity of having some kind of building – I’d love to see studios on top of garages or bungalows out the back, like when they used to have granny flats.
“We don’t want to destroy the peninsula, but we also want to make sure that those who are willing to do this, who want to do this, who need that little bit of extra income, all those sort of people are catered for as well.
“We have the largest contingent of homeless people, women over 55 who are couch surfing. This would be the ideal situation for them.
“It’s obviously not for families, but it’s something that would be absolutely ideal for them and give them a sense of place.”
Cr Lisa Dixon said “everyone reacts negatively” at the mention of shipping containers, but said her “favourite television program”, Grand Designs, had included a “phenomenal” shipping container home as a finalist for its house of the year award.