17.1 C
Byron Shire
June 4, 2023

April 2025: new deadline for temporary housing pod villagers in Wollongbar

Latest News

Why are white Australians even being asked to vote on the Voice?

The fast-approaching Voice referendum is a complete clusterf**k for all Australians. It stinks of failure at each and every...

Other News

Let’s explore Byron Council’s secret meetings!

Has Byron Shire Council improved with its transparency with regards to confidential motions?

Interview with Akmal Saleh

The Byron Comedy Festival is on this weekend with the event closing out with Akmal Saleh’s third show, proving...

Fun community connection for Japanese community 

The local Japanese community came together in early May at the Cavanbah center to celebrate Japanese Children’s Day. 

Will Byron kids help to regenerate public land?

Byron school students could take part in regular community tree plantings on land owned by Byron Council as a way of learning about bush regeneration and acting on climate change.

Dance and escape at the Nudge

Dance and escape before their winter break at June’s Nudge Nudge Wink Wink: The Ultimate Party with a Conscience! The party of the year...

Greens call for two-year rent freeze 

A new Essential Guardian poll shows 60 per cent of Australians support a freeze on rental increases.

Wollongbar housing pods and caravans. Photo David Lowe.

The recovery horizon for last year’s Northern Rivers disasters continues to stretch, but the government seems determined to finalise ‘exit plans’ for survivors staying in temporary housing in Wollongbar.

A one-year extension of the government’s lease of part of the Wollongbar Sports Fields for a temporary housing pod village for flood-affected people would ‘allow the agency to put in place exit plans for residents of the village’, Ballina Shire Council staff notes for this week’s ordinary council meeting showed.

Putting the plan in place would, in turn, ensure ‘residents would exit the village towards the end of 2024/early 2025’.

The news comes nearly fifteen months after floods first ravaged the region, with little to no signs of major recovery in sight aside from clean-ups.

Major infrastructure repairs to flood levees are ongoing while significant local sites such as the Norco icecream factory in Lismore are not expected to be operational for another year or so.

Homeowners continue to grapple with insurance companies, contractors, government agencies and their immediate housing concerns while former renters face a crippled market.

136 disaster survivors in temporary Wollongbar village

Council staff notes on the Wollongbar Sports Fields lease extension request show the lease started on 14 April 2022, some six weeks after disaster first struck, so the state government could temporarily house flood-affected people.

A hundred and thirty-six people currently live in the village, which hosts around 107 self-contained units ranging in size from studio pods to four bedroom accommodation and caravans.

The government appointed community housing provider North Coast Community Housing to allocate accommodation, carry out day to day management and provide on-site security in the village.

The government’s two-year lease with the Ballina Shire Council is due to expire in less than a year, on 13 April 2024.

New Labor agency determined to ‘decommission the village’

The new Labor government has replaced Resilience NSW with the NSW Reconstruction Authority (NRA), and staff say the NRA has recently requested a one year extension of the lease until 13 April 2025.

‘The NSW Reconstruction Authority has advised that it needs a one year extension of the lease to allow time to decommission the village and complete their obligations under the lease to reinstate the property,’ staff notes say.

The NRA says the extension would allow the agency to start ‘make good works’, or restoration work, in March 2025, with that work likely to take between four and six weeks.

Community feedback could prove controversial

Staff also say the council needs to ‘consider if it wishes to seek community feedback prior to making the decision’.

‘Council received negative feedback regarding the lack of community consultation in respect to the initial decision to lease the sports fields, and similar feedback may occur if approval is provided to extend the lease without consultation,’ staff notes say.

The council will continue to receive rent for another year consistent with terms of the existing lease if the government request is approved.

Terms of the council’s current lease agreements with the government concerning how much rent is paid are secret.

Council notes say the government pays for water, electricity, and other services used onsite.

‘The revenue from the rent is currently transferred to reserve for future use by Council,’ the notes say.

Staff recommend extending temporary housing village lease

Staff have presented two options to councillors voting this week on the request: extend or not extend the lease, with their recommendation being to extend.

‘This assists the Reconstruction Authority in providing ongoing support to flood affected members of the community and there is minimal impact on the capacity of Council’s sporting infrastructure in terms of opportunity for community sport,’ staff say.

This month’s ordinary Ballina Shire Council meeting is to start at 9am on Thursday 25 May in council chambers and streamed via the council’s website.

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. A lot of homelessness and displacement could be rectified if the insurance companies stood up and and did the right thing by paying out the claims that are obviously 2022 flood related.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


Congratulations to Chris Minns for bringing in the new regulations about so-called VIP rooms in clubs and pubs. It’s only a small step in...

To Mandy 

I love reading Mandy’s Soapbox, she reflects what I’m thinking, and many like me. In the 17 May column titled ‘A crown is just a...

Getting Real About The Voice

Responding to Ian Pratt in an attempt to ‘get real about the Voice’. The proposal does not challenge the historical fact of conquest i.e....

Police compassion

Mandy, you said (Echo, 17 May)]: ‘There’s not many 95-year-olds I wouldn’t be able to overpower if necessary’ and ‘to disarm a 95-year-old with...