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Byron Shire
July 23, 2024

No ‘key worker’ or ‘affordable housing’ for Ballina Council’s Wollongbar development

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Ballina Council’s Wollongbar Medium Density Housing Project. Photo https://ballina.nsw.gov.au/infocouncil/Open/2024/06/CSC_12062024_AGN_AT.PDF page 48

On the second last piece of Ballina Shire Council-owned residential land they have decided to develop the land with no affordable or public housing components. 

The Wollongbar Medium Density Housing Project has now gone on public exhibition and  BSC has stated in a press release that it ‘is looking to improve diversity in the residential housing market and has commenced the design process for medium density housing options on Council-owned land on Dundee and Elsa Avenues in Wollongbar.’

Stage One concept designs put forward an initial layout of five lots, delivering a total of 15 dwellings and 17 garage spaces. The proposed mix of housing includes:

  • 2 x Four-bedroom duplexes
  • 9 x Three-bedroom townhouses
  • 1 Manor home including 1 x One-bedroom unit, 2 x Two-bedroom units and 1 x Three-bedroom unit.

Lennox Head resident and Ballina Shire Councillor Kiri Dicker. Photo supplied

Affordable and key worker housing removed

Councillor Kiri Dicker told The Echo that ‘the entire language about this proposal has shifted – the words “affordable” and “key workers” have been removed and now the project is about “introducing diversity” into the market – which is bizarre when nine of the 15 dwellings are three-bedroom units and two are four-bedroom units.’

During the councillor debate at the Wednesday, 12 June Commercial Services Meeting where the council voted to put the proposal on exhibition for public comment, the Ballina Mayor, Sharon Cadwallader, made it clear she did not support including affordable housing in this council development. 

Ballina’s Mayor Sharon Cadwallader. Photo David Lowe.

‘This is not to provide housing that’s going to be subsidised in any way shape, or form,’ Cr Cadwallader told the meeting. 

‘This will be part of the Council’s portfolio, and part of the income stream.’

Cr Dicker said that she would support putting the project on public submission but that she was disappointed that there was no affordable and key worker housing included in the project as it stands. 

‘I just don’t think I’ve ever been so disappointed at the trajectory that a council project has taken since being elected,’ Cr Dicker told the meeting. 

‘There’s nothing about this project, as it currently stands, that will fill any housing need in our community. There’s nothing that will make it affordable. There’s four ways, basically, that you can make housing affordable as a developer: as council, being a developer, you can target it to people who most need affordable housing, which we’ve explicitly said we don’t want to do. You can fix the rent below market rate in some way which it doesn’t seem like there’s any appetite to do. You can achieve affordability through built form, and it doesn’t seem that stage one will do that. Or there is environmental design improvements. And I think that they’re doing the bare minimum here. You know, solar panels are hardly innovative these days.

‘It’s not going in a direction that I’m happy with. We’re just replicating the same or broken system that is not delivering outcomes to our community, for the private sector to do that, it’s unfortunate, but for council to do that, to me, is just unconscionable.’

Your say

The BSC press release has stated that the ‘project is in the concept design stage with many decisions yet to be made by Council including design, planning approval and selection of construction partners. Council is seeking feedback on the concept designs to ensure the project meets community expectations.

‘Residents are encouraged to subscribe for project updates and provide their feedback on the project and concept designs at www.YourSayBallina.com.au/Wollongbar-Housing-Project. Feedback on the Wollongbar Housing Proposal closes Friday 5 July 2024.’

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  1. what a disgrace! this land could be used for eco-indigenous living in low-cost, sustainable buildings for people who want to live off the land with native food gardens on-site.

  2. Councils need new revenue streams but the best one is stamp duty from the state government from the buying and selling of real estate every council in NSW and Australia no doubt are broke because they don’t have this revenue stream and just rely on hitting up rate payers for more and more and then asking state government for grants to meet the shortfalls in infrastructure spending if only all councils would lobby state government for stamp duty from the buying and selling of houses they would all be in the black and could have affordable social housing built with all the extra money.


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