Brunswick Community Care (BCCC) raised the idea of establishing community housing mobile home parks on railway land over 10 years ago.
The rail corridor between Casino and Murwillumbah includes a minimum 20m buffer zone either side of the tracks and additional lands were used for sidings, storage, workshops and station buildings.
We’ve attended many Affordable Housing forums over the years to spruik the idea and spoke with councillors, community housing, welfare organisations and local builders featuring their small homes at these forums.
Our goal is to establish small low impact clustered housing sites along the rail corridor particularly around the disused stations in smaller communities with easy access to water/sewer/power connections.
With the potential to develop local housing initiatives and assist low income residents and local communities.
Community Care spoke to rail lands manager about leasing the Station Street land (which has had horses agisted for years) as we wanted a trial site close to town and services for over 55s who are facing serious housing stress.
Unfortunately, rail managers were only interested in commercial development and outright refused to consider any type of housing/residential use, claiming the soil is toxic.
Erecting Woolies food store and council chambers is not a health risk to staff or clients as they’re protected by a concrete slab and tarmac carparks!
Just last year council established a truck car park (after closing Byron Depot) next to Mullum station. Yet kids play and are exposed to these toxins at Railway Park, the pre-school and at the nearby community gardens, which is surrounded by railway lands.
No soil testing has been done on these sites but BCCc funds are available.
It’s almost two decades since the passenger train was derailed and even longer since toxic substances were stored or used in these areas.
There may be noise issues if the trains/trail walk were (re)-established, as has happened in Byron.
Which is why our preference is for above ground relocatable houses to avoid flooding and toxins and any change of use.
It’s a great idea and this push to sell off our public land may just be the impetus needed to get this project moving along.
Michele Grant, president, Bruns Community Care Council