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Byron Shire
June 18, 2024

Mullum locals protest flood-prone pod site

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Local residents were at Byron Shire Council chambers this morning to highlight their concerns over placing pods in a flood zone.

Around 40–50 locals gathered outside the Byron Shire Council chambers this morning to highlight the risks of, and lack of due process around, the selection of the flood accommodation pod site in Mullumbimby.

‘We are meeting here to highlight the questions that have been raised by Councillor Duncan Dey (Greens) at today’s Council meeting in relation to the process, due diligence, and communication that took place over the site selection of Prince Street Mullumbimby for the pod location,’ Prince Street resident Rosie Bookall told The Echo

View from Station Street over the pod site to Prince Street as flood waters receded during the February 28 flood. Photo supplied

‘There are no flood or hydraulic reports and they are filling in a floodplain. Since we were told that the site was being developed Council have not answered any of the emails we have sent. Council is supposed to be advocating for residents and constituents. Many of us are flood affected and are out of our homes, camping on driveways or in our houses.’

Speaking to residents outside the council chamber Cr Dey said that he was one of the councillors who had voted in favour of sending the list of 14 government-owned properties to Resilience NSW for consideration. 

Questioned on why Byron Shire Council did not release these 14 options to the public at that time for the purpose of community discussion and transparency, he said ‘some councillors prefer to work behind closed doors’.

Pods on wheels

‘One thing we were told verbally, but not in writing, at the time we sent in the list of properties, was that anything that went on the Prince Street site would be on wheels because it was a flood-prone site,’ he said.

People need accommodation

It is clear that there are many people who need accommodation locally, a problem that has been exacerbated by the floods. In the five months since the floods many of these people have moved often, some more than a dozen times, as they seek permanent or semi-permanent housing solutions. 

‘There is no one answer to where we house people,’ said local resident Louise Godon who is speaking to Council on behalf of the concerned residents. 

Another local resident, who asked not to be named, agreed saying that they had no kitchen and no back wall in their house that is located in the area. 

‘I could apply for one of the pods. We have been really traumatised by the floods and this is making it worse. The Council, by suggesting this site for pods in the first place, is throwing us under the bus, particularly by not looking for flood-free solutions. 

‘I know one person who was offered a pod there but refused, saying that they didn’t want to be in a flood zone.’ 

Other options

Some residents have asked why Council did not seek alternative suggestions, such as by calling for expressions of interest from landholders who could have supplied flood-free land for pods to be placed on for limited periods of time. 

‘I know that some local landholders near town offered land for pods but this doesn’t appear to have been taken up,’ said the local. 

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  1. Instead of building on fill it would be better to put them on stilts above the flood level to not only protect concerned nearby residents but to also not again traumatise the pod livers who have already been through hell!

  2. Sure as s… none of those protesting would be people that were left homeless and with luck could be one of those who might be accommodated in one of those Pods – NIMBY alive and well in Mullumbimby, take a bow, grubs.

    • Mark, I don’t think your comment is exactly correct. I know of homeless that are against this site exactly because it is a flood site and they are still traumatized by the flood experience (and everything that follows) and they want somewhere to be safe. Not a flood site.

      • Mark is 100% correct, most land owners in the shire are older, entitled white Australians, who think they are culturally founded or compassionate or progressive because they ‘vote against development’ on all kinds of basis such as ‘indigenous values’ or ‘environmental values’, when really they are ultra conservative, in trying to maintain their own personal vanity, amenity and land values at the expense of others, often the younger generation, by restricting any type of development or activity in their own backyard.

  3. Put fill on a flood prone area and the water that would have been in the space occupied by the fill, is is now going to sit elsewhere and further raise flood levels in other areas. It may only raise flood levels by a few millimeters but sometimes that is the difference between having water in your home and keeping dry as a few Mullum residents found out to their cost when flooded or relief when the water level stopped just short of coming in.

  4. So many people live to complain in this Shire. Selfish fearmongering. Anyone who knows anything about flood storage knows that the impact of limited fill on that site will have close to zero impact (<0.5cm) on potential flooding down the track. We don't need to waste months on end with paralysis by analysis. I guess a leopard doesn't change its' spots. Too hard a mind shift for the Echo to actually be supportive of development – even ones this worthy of the community's support. Why don't the Echo go and interview some of the people who are actually homeless who would be grateful to have a home?

  5. Such a shame..community spirit seems to be lost in Mullim….
    Making excuses for not wanting these temporary pods near their houses..

  6. Community spirit is alive and well in Mullum. No one at that rally is or was against Emergency Housing. The issue is don’t put flood impacted families back onto flood prone land and don’t fill large swathes of land in the centre of a town that just experienced the worst flood in memory……Most of the people at the rally live in the streets either side of the ‘pod construction’ many of their houses were flooded in February and there are at least 15 houses within 100 metres of the site that are still empty from flood damage. This is not a NIMBY issue. Putting fill on that land is a concern for anyone who lives in the town centre who experienced inundation into their homes or came close to having flood enter their homes….Its not a little bit of fill its a substantial amount on flood plain….if you drive to the end of Prince Street the fill is now higher than the floor level of the homes opposite. Don’t make assessments based on driving past at Argyle Street. Drive down Prince Street and have a look then get out of your cars and door knock the half a dozen streets behind the pod site and talk to people who are still flood traumatised and very concerned that this will cause higher flooding into their homes. This development has the potential to cause increased homelessness should we have another wet season or a cyclone this coming summer….haven’t we learnt anything about filling flood plains from the last 9 months of flooding in NSW? Surely the council could have supported more creative, long term approaches to the needs of displaced families ….. as well as opening up discussions with the community that its supposed to be advocating for rather than making disastrous decisions behind closed door. And no, I’m don’t live on a hill casting judgement I live in a home within 50 metres of the site that went well under mud in February. I lived in a bus in my driveway for 2 months before slowly being able to live back in my home. I don’t have a kitchen and only recently had the back walls of my home reclad so Its been a chilly winter!

  7. ” Cr Dey said that he was one of the councillors who had voted in favour of sending the list of 14 government-owned properties to Resilience NSW for consideration.”

    Is he now against the site or this just a bit of Echo/Green / Politics ?

  8. Better option: Call a 2 year Moratorium on Tourists using the Shires 5 Caravan Parks (2 owned by Council and 3 owned by State Gov.), to be used for 2 years of accommodation for the flood victims. The $100,000 cost of each pod instead used to defray caravan/cabin rent. Cabins, caravan sites, amenities already in place. Tourists have other accommodation options


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