Affordable Housing Local Solutions Forum

Bellingen and Nambucca Affordable Housing Action Group

Researchers involved with the ARC Linkage Project ‘Local Government and Housing for Australian in the 21st Century’ were invited by the Bellingen and Nambucca Affordable Housing Action Group, to attend the Affordable Housing Local Solutions Forum. Chief Investigator John Martin and PhD Student Laura Hodgson made the journey to Bellingen, New South Wales, after the Mooney Valley Workshop held earlier in the week. The forum was held over the 3rd and 4th of May and was attended by local government council members and staff, representatives of various organisations, researchers and members of the public. Over 120 people had registered for attendance over the two days, surpassing the Action Group’s expectation of 50 attendees! The attendance itself showed the interest in and importance of affordable housing in the area.

Highlights of the forum included:

  • Keynote addresses by our own John Martin, accompanied by Karen Walsh – CEO of NSW Shelter, Rebecca Jardim – Senior Strategic Planner at Bellingen, Gary White – NSW Chief Planner.
  • CEO of Common Equity Ltd, James Brown presenting on modern co-operative housing solutions, which preceded a panel discussion on forms of co-operative housing. This was of great interest to the community which has an existing housing co-operative.
  • Other sessions included financing affordable housing projects and innovative local housing solutions.
  • There were two closed sessions: one for local government, which was facilitated by John Martin and Gary White and focussed on the role of Councils; and another session that was for housing industry professionals, including developers, architects, engineers and real estate agents in addition to some local government staff.
  • Fundraising dinner with keynote speakers Dr Louise Crabtree – University of Western Sydney and Dr Ben Spies-Butcher – Macquarie University.

Key themes which repeated throughout the forum was the desire for Bellingen and Nambucca to have a plentiful supply of fit for purpose, affordable and sustainable housing – suitable for young people, families and those who choose to retire and relocate to the region from the city. Bellingen also relies heavily on tourism, therefore both council and the community were interested in understanding the extent and use of platforms such as Airbnb and how they can contribute to the local economy and housing.

Laura will be using the Bellingen Shire as one of the case studies for the project.

Laura and John would like to thank the Bellingen Neighbourhood Centre who organised the forum and assisted in accommodation costs. Materials from the forums will be available shortly on the Bellingen Neighbourhood Centre website.

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