Councillor wants flood resilient homes rather than buybacks that are dividing the town

2022: Woodburn Marine staff sit on the sign as floodwaters rise. Photo: Contributed

Susanna Freymark

Councillor Robert Hayes has serious concerns about the future of Woodburn and the lack of flood recovery planning around housing.

At the December Richmond Valley Council meeting, there was a letter from Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Paul Scully replying to the council’s request to look at other flood recovery options beyond buybacks.

The letter said little and suggested the council work with the NSW Reconstruction Authority to “consider social, cultural, economic and environmental factors across all reconstruction programs and initiatives”.

It’s political waffle and not helpful for a community resurrecting itself after a massive flood and before that, the opening of the new Pacific Highway.

Mr Hayes knows too well the frustrations of the community and he wants them to take action and make their voices heard.

“As a councillor and after consultation with residents and business owners from Woodburn, I feel obliged to advocate on behalf of their community and the surrounding areas, by questioning the NSW Reconstruction Authority’s planning for flood recovery and rebuilding for the township of Woodburn as it proceeds with buybacks nearly two years on from the February floods,” Mr Hayes said.

His concern stems from a lack of planning for the future of the town, and has been fuelled largely by the buyback program which is lacking vision, he said.

“If the reconstruction commission is allowed to continue down this path it will pose a serious threat to the ongoing viability of the town, without achieving much at all in the way of future flood proofing.”

The issue for Woodburn is the unavailability of flood-free land for future growth, he said.

“I fail to see how the current buyback program benefits the Woodburn community. It is my view and the view of many, that house raising and retrofitting using flood resistant materials would have been a much better alternative for Woodburn.”

Mr Hayes said he believed there was another round of buybacks to be offered in the town.

“How does buying back a small portion of the overall dwellings help the remainder of the town? It is a solution that puts the needs of a few above the needs of many.”

Mr Hayes urges residents to write to ministers and the Reconstruction Authority.

Here are the details of who to write to about Woodburn’s recovery:

NSW Reconstruction Authority’s Kieron Hendicott


Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin


Member for Clarence Richie Williamson


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