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Byron Shire
August 16, 2022

Pod home village for flood victims to be built in central Mullumbimby

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Up to 180 locals who lost their homes in the floods will move into temporary ‘pod homes’ on rail corridor land close to the centre of Mullumbimby.

But concerns have been raised about the flood-prone nature of the site, and an apparent lack of transparency from the State Government in planning the project.

Residents on Prince Street, Mullumbimby received letters last Friday (July 8) from Resilience NSW informing them that around 60 modular homes, each with between one and four bedrooms, would be located on the 2.5 hectare field next to Woolworths.

The parcel of land on Prince Street, Mullumbimby where the State Government is planning to build a pod village for flood victims. Image: Google

Construction fences started going up three days later, and site preparation works are set to begin almost immediately.

The pod village will have power, water and sewerage, and will be supported by a community housing provider that will provide security and support for the residents and ensure that rules and agreements for the site are adhered to.

’The NSW Government is committed to supporting people impacted by the recent floods every step of the way,’ local residents were told in the letter.

‘These housing units will be located at the site for up to two years, depending on housing needs, to ensure flood-affected residents have time to finalise their long-term housing solutions.’

But a significant number of residents oppose the project, saying the land in question is subject to flooding.

‘In any significant rain event, like a torrential downpour, that field is a mud pit,’ said one Prince Street resident who asked to remain anonymous.

‘In the February-March floods that land would have been close to 1.5 metres under water.’

The resident said that this posed a risk, not only to those living in the pod village, but also to nearby homes.

’When you build on a flood prone site it has an impact on the surrounding area, even if it’s a relatively small development’ the resident said.

‘Some of our homes on Prince Street were centimetres away from being flooded and there were homes just down the road that went under completely.’

When questioned about this concern, Resilience NSW did not provide any formal comment.

However, The Echo understands that the site was identified following a review of suitable land in the area led by the NSW Department of Planning and in consultation with Byron Council.

Residents are also concerned about the process which led to the selection of the site and the seemingly sudden commencement of the project.

There was no consultation with neighbours, and the State Government did not obtain formal approval from Byron Council to develop the site.

This lack of Council approval was made possible by the fact that the land in question is owned by a State Government-owned corporation, the Transport Asset Holding Entity. Thus the State Government is effectively leasing the land to itself and as both the applicant and the approval authority.

‘I find it astonishing that they didn’t have to get Council approval for this,’ the Prince Street resident said.

‘They’ve basically just decided to drop this in the middle of Mullumbimby. We understand that people need somewhere to live, but I just don’t think this has really been thought through.’

Resilience NSW also declined to provide any formal comment in relation to the issue of consultation and transparency.

Update: This story was updated to include a response from Resilience NSW on Tuesday, July 12 at 2.30pm.


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14 COMMENTS

  1. “But a significant number of residents oppose the project”

    This should be the Motto for the Byron Shire .

    It should be chiseled in stone at all the roads into the Shire .

    • Gold. So true. But you would also need a stone next to the first one saying, “Why doesn’t the government fix the housing crisis?”.

      It’s temporary emergency housing for 2 years, for people who literally have no place to live, yet all that these people can think about is “Not in my back yard”. The mental gymnastics to make it about “the flooding risk” is all a mind game to absolve oneself of the guilt of opposing such a clear public good for vulnerable families. I wonder if their complaints would be the same if they weren’t nicely tucked up in their own place, but were one of the ones with no place to live? It’s temporary for needy people and still the whinge is the primary thing dominating the public discourse. At the same time, we bang on about what a great “community spirit” we have. Not when it might cost us a bit of discomfort for a couple of years to help others. How sad. Actually, how pathetic.

  2. “The Echo has submitted a series of questions to the Resilience NSW media team with a deadline of 11am today. At the time of publication we were still awaiting a response”

    In the interests of FULL disclosure by The Echo , what were the questions and when were they submitted ?

    Otherwise you final comment is meaningless .

    • Ed: Here are the questions we submitted. As you’ll see in the update to the story that is about to happen, Resilience NSW elected not to provide any on-the-record comments for the story.

      * Why did Resilience NSW choose a site for temporary accommodation for flood victims that is flood prone?

      * Did Resilience NSW undertake any evaluation of the site prior to selecting it for temporary accommodation? If so, what did this evaluation involve?

      * Why did Resilience NSW choose not to undertake any consultation with residents prior to making this decision, and instead chose to simply inform them that it was happening?

  3. Ditto Brunswick Heads at bayside, any lengthy period of rain and the piece of land neatly fenced by disaster nsw last Sunday is inches under water.

  4. Winge, whiner, whinge. Should be gratefull for small mercies. You do not hear other flood area victims whinging as much as this.

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