12.2 C
Byron Shire
April 21, 2021

Housing affordability on agenda at Ballina

Latest News

Community land trust

Shane Sylvanspring, Mullumbimby I want to congratulate and applaud Cr Paul Spooner, Mayor Simon Richardson, and planning staff for supporting and...

Other News

Affordable myth

Patricia Warren, Brunswick Heads There is a ‘myth of affordable housing’ in Byron Shire. Well may councillors lament the lack of ‘affordable...

Tweed council adopts Jack Evans Boat Harbour plan

The Tweed Shire Council has announced that they have adopted the Plan of Management for the Jack Evans Boat Harbour precinct.

Beware of flood damage scams

NSW Fair Trading is warning consumers about opportunistic tradespeople trying to take advantage during the flood recovery process as the state gets back on its feet.

Common courtesy

Anonymous, Byron Bay First of all, thank you to those customers who did the right thing and wore their masks in...

SCU named as partner in two national drought hubs

Southern Cross University has been announced as playing a crucial partnership role in two new Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hubs.

Paramedic pay

Sue McLeod, Myocum  I was saddened by the plight of our paramedics and their union’s frustrated attempts to seek a pay...

Building in progress. Photo David Howard.

With the housing crisis worsening in Ballina and across the Northern Rivers, councillors agreed that something had to be done about the problem at their meeting yesterday.

Cr Ben Smith’s motion called for the creation of a consultative group, consisting of key housing stakeholders, to inform Ballina Council’s Housing Affordability Strategy and to provide on-going input and feedback.

Cr Smith said there was a clear housing affordability issue, which wasn’t as simple as supply and demand, in spite of what the NSW government might have said on the subject. ‘We have lots of land but still have lots of issues,’ he said.

‘Maybe it’s easy for ministers to say that when they’re getting backpocket donations from developers.’

He noted that lots of people who grew up in Ballina can no longer afford to live in the area. Single women and divorced people faced particular challenges. Cr Smith said that even people with good incomes were being knocked back, with others offering even more to get in.

He said the situation was causing knock-on effects too, for example with traffic, with people having to live further and further out, and commute.

What to do?

Cr Smith noted that property needed to be about housing and not just making money.

CR Ben Smith. Photo supplied.

‘I don’t know the exact way to solve it,’ he said.

While lots of things needed to happen at federal and state level, he said there were also things that could be done at a local level.

Cr Smith said that if organisations like Northern Rivers Housing and other solution-focused people could be brought together, then resources could be pooled locally and regionally to make ‘some kind of dent in the problem’ before the situation got completely out of control in the shire.

Cr Phillip Meehan asked council staff where the housing affordability strategy was up to? Manager of Strategic Planning Matt Wood said it was early days for the new strategy, with the consultation process currently being mapped out. He said the timing of the motion was perfect to aid momentum.

Cr Eoin Johnston recounted a recent conversation with two older ladies in Wollongbar who were very sensitive to the needs and wants of those who were homeless.

The ladies had reminded him that while there are some people sleeping in backyard tents, there were others with spare rooms and space who would like to help if the DA process was not so onerous and expensive.

Cr Johnston said there good-minded people in the community who felt guilty for living alone in large houses when there were others who had nowhere to sleep, while noting that many of these older people were themselves quite vulnerable; the process of creating share situations would need to be handled carefully.

He suggested that police and social workers could also be involved with the housing affordability strategy.

Issue bigger than council

Cr Keith Williams thanked Ben Smith for his motion, saying it was a great approach, with the issue so much bigger than council.

Cr Keith Williams. Photo David Lowe.

‘We have to develop some kind of response,’ he said, ‘or we risk becoming more like Byron, where you become a rich enclave and the people who work in the shire can’t afford to live in the shire.

‘This is timely and a great initiative,’ he said.

Cr Sharon Cadwallader said anything that could be done to address the homelessness problem would be a good thing, noting that previous local attempts to emulate higher density eco-housing success stories near public transport, like Varsity Lakes, had come to nothing.

‘If we can get everyone around the table and work out how council could assist in some way, that’s a good thing,’ she said.

‘We’ll never address the problem fully, we know that, but anything we can do we should do. It’s a pleasure to support this,’ said Cr Cadwallader.

Cr Smith thanked council for its support. The motion was carried unanimously.

More stories about Ballina Shire Council:

Upgrades for Lighthouse Parade in Ballina

One of the showcase areas of Ballina is about to get a safety and aesthetic upgrade, with the Lighthouse Parade Pedestrian Precinct and Road Safety Project commencing soon.


HuskeeSwap launches in Lennox

An exciting initiative to keep coffee cups out of landfill launched in Lennox Head yesterday. Ballina Shire Council is backing the HuskeeSwap program with free coffees at different cafes in Lennox this week, for coffeeholics keen to try a new solution to a growing problem.


Face masks for Ballina and Byron businesses

As masks become harder to find across the Northern Rivers following the latest COVID-19 health alert, NSW Health has provided masks for business operators in Ballina and Byron Shires.


Ballina Council on aquifers, roads and police

Ballina Shire Council's March meeting had a focus on water, climate, roads, aesthetics and police as the area continues to struggle with the benefits and challenges of accelerating growth.


Climate change policy on agenda at Ballina Council

Ballina Shire Council will exhibit its new Climate Change Policy, seek community engagement regarding wider action on the climate issue, and investigate employing a new person to support the implementation of the policy.


Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


  1. Getting the railway up and operational would assist in reopening those parts and valleys to allow more reasonable access to cheaper accommodation, transport and employment. It has been noticed historically world wide that rail assist employment and development. It should be an initiative of all council to have this reinstated.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Cartoon of the week – 21 April, 2021

We love to receive letters, but not every letter will be published; the publication of letters is at the discretion of the online and print letters editors.

Byron Drag Racers World Record

The local AAA Racing motorcycle team have set a new world record in 100cc class, as well as a top national speed in 50cc class at the recent Australian Speed Week held at Salt Lake Gairdner, South Australia.

Your Local Club Academy Games

The North Coast Academy of Sport prepared its largest squad ever to compete at the 2021 Your Local Club Academy Games, held in the Hunter region last weekend.

Entertainment in the Byron Shire for the week beginning 21 April, 2021

Check out entertainment listings for the week, with music, dance, cinema and all sorts events happening in and around the Byron Shire