Anyone with questions about the second state government temporary housing village for flood and landslide survivors in the Ballina Shire can attend a drop-in information session on Wednesday.
Nearly two hundred people who can’t yet or ever return to their disaster-impacted homes are to be accommodated in the temporary village on Ballina’s Burnet Street for up to two years.
The Ballina Shire Council says priority for the approximately 53 planned self-contained housing units will go to people who have lived in the Ballina Shire before, or very close to it.
Site work is understood to have started this week, with the government saying a staged handover to an appointed community housing provider is expected to happen in late October.
The NSW government has hired the John Holland Group to design and build the village with oversight from the state’s Public Works department.
Seven months post-floods, emergency housing barely built
The Burnet Street project comes after Resilience NSW launched a pilot housing pod village for Northern Rivers disaster survivors on a sports field in Wollongbar four months ago.
The state government announced the temporary housing villages as part of a $350 million scheme more than six months ago but Wollongbar is the only project to have welcomed residents so far.
Elsewhere on the Northern Rivers, councils and residents have bickered over exactly where the villages might be best or worst placed, with the government restricting possible sites to publicly-owned land.
The Lismore City Council is yet to suggest a suitable location, despite being widely regarded as representing the worst-hit local government area in the region in terms of flood impacts and subsequent homelessness.
The council has twice rejected a state government request to use a park in Goonellabah, citing community needs for the ground as a sports field and place to walk dogs.
A proposed village for Kingscliff in the Tweed Shire has been delayed owing to a pre-approved salt-water pipeline being laid in the chosen block of land for an inland lobster farm.
Displaced disaster survivors in the Tweed Shire may not be able to access the so-called emergency housing until as long as a year after having to leave their homes.
The government has announced three villages for the Byron Shire after choosing sites from a council-compiled list.
Two of the villages are to be in Brunswick Heads, while major construction has already started on a Mullumbimby village.
All three sites have triggered community concerns, mostly related to flood risks, which was also a concern raised in the Ballina Shire when Burnet Street was chosen.
Burnet Street is also home to the Cherry Street Sports Club which was used as a flood evacuation centre earlier this year until it had to be evacuated owing to record-breaking floods.
More than a letter for Ballina residents
Resilience NSW says flood impacts are taken into consideration when designing the temporary villages but as of last week was yet to release studies for the Mullumbimby project.
This week’s community drop-in information sessions about Ballina’s Burnet Street project are in contrast to the way the government informed Mullumbimby residents about the village being built on disused rail land near the town’s Woolworths supermarket.
Nearby residents have consistently complained that notice of the project came late via a letterbox drop and lacked detail or an invitation for community engagement.
Brunswick Heads residents received a late invitation to community drop-in sessions about the two proposed sites there earlier this month.
Anyone with questions about the Burnet Street project can attend information sessions at the Ballina Bears Cricket Club House on Fripp Oval on Wednesday between 9am – 11am or between 3pm – 6pm.