Flooding near Ballina Fair, March 2, 2022. Photo David Lowe.

Anyone with questions about the state government’s second temporary housing village for flood and landslide survivors in Ballina County can attend a walk-in briefing on Wednesday.

Nearly two hundred people who cannot yet or never return to their stricken homes are to be housed in the temporary village of Ballina’s Burnet Street for up to two years.

Ballina Shire Council said priority for the approximately 53 planned self-contained housing units will go to people who have previously lived in, or very close to, the Ballina Shire.

Work on the site is said to have started this week, with the government saying a phased handover to a designated community housing provider is expected to take place at the end of October.

The New South Wales government contracted John Holland Group to design and build the village under the supervision of the state’s Department of Public Works.

Plans for the Resilience NSW temporary emergency housing project for Burnet Street in the Ballina Shire. PIC provided

Seven months after the floods, barely built emergency housing

The Burnet Street project comes after Resilience NSW launched a pilot housing village for Northern Rivers disaster survivors four months ago at a sports ground in Wollongbar.

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 taken in residents so far.

Elsewhere on the Northern Rivers, councils and locals have argued over exactly where villages might be best or worst placed, with the government limiting possible sites to public land.

Lismore Town Council has yet to suggest a suitable location, although it is widely considered to represent the worst affected local government area in the region in terms of flood impacts and homelessness.

The council has twice rejected a request from the state government to use a park in Goonellabah, citing the community’s need for the land as a sports ground and a place to walk dogs.

The government has announced three villages for the Byron Shire after choosing sites from a list compiled by the council.

Two of the villages are to be at Brunswick Heads, while major building work has already started at one village in Mullumbimby.

All three sites raised community concerns, primarily related to flood risk, which was also a concern raised in Ballina County when Burnet Street was chosen.

Burnet Street is also home to the Cherry Street Sports Club which was used as a flood evacuation center earlier this year until it had to be evacuated due to record flooding.

More than a letter for the people of Ballina

Resilience NSW says flooding impacts are considered when designing the temporary villages, but as of last week it had yet to publish studies for the Mullumbimby project.

This week’s community briefings on Ballina’s Burnet Street project stand in contrast to how the government informed residents of Mullumbimby about the village being built on disused railway land near the town’s Woolworths supermarket.

Nearby residents consistently complained that notice of the project came late via letterbox and lacked details or an invitation to community engagement.

Anyone with questions about the Burnet Street project can attend briefings at the Ballina Bears Cricket Club House on Fripp Oval on Wednesday between 9 a.m. – 11 a.m. or between 3 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Inquiries can also be directed to Resilience NSWGoing through [email protected] or 02 9212 9200.