Funding helps council forge ahead with 1500-blocks at Fairy Hill for flood-free housing

Signing the funding agreement at Woodburn were front, State MPs Janelle Saffin and Richie Williamson, and behind Richmond Valley mayor Robert Mustow and the Reconstruction Authority’s Mal Lanyon.

Susanna Freymark

On a bright day, next to the bridge arching across the swollen Richmond River at Woodburn, an announcement was made about funding for affordable flood-free housing.

The State Government is giving $245,000 to Richmond Valley Council to scope out what is needed for the 1500-blocks at Fairy Hill to proceed.

Known as the Summerland Estate, mayor Robert Mustow said the land was identified in the Resilient Lands Program run by the Reconstruction Authority.

The money will be used to investigate roads, water and sewage for the blocks of land, Mr Mustow said.

“This will benefit Kyogle and Casino communities,” he said as Summerland Estate sits between the two towns.

When the blocks of land are up for sale, which looks like it could a few years yet, who will be able to buy them?

Reconstruction Authority acting chief executive Mal Lanyon said priority will be given to flood affected people.

“It’s an excellent location,” he said.

“It’s about giving people options — this is flood-free land.

“Our first priority is getting people permanent housing.

“It’s about giving options to families.”

Parliamentary Secretary for  Disaster Recovery Janelle Saffin said this was a small step but a significant step to advance the flood recovery process.

State MP Richie Williamson said. “We’ve got a long way to go in flood recovery — we know that.”

Funding was announced for four housing projects in the Northern Rivers — 1500 blocks at Summerland Estate at Fairy Hill, 400 blocks in East Lismore, 50 at Mount Pleasant Estate in Goonellabah and an investigation into housing for Saddle Road at Brunswick Heads.

Mr Mustow said Fairy Hill was an ideal location because land along the coast was never going to be affordable.

“This is an opportunity for affordable land inland,” he said.

“We want people off the floodplain for safety, and insurance is going through the roof.”

Because of where the announcement was made, the question of “What about Woodburn?” hung in the air.

Mr Williamson said he wanted to see house raising and retrofits for Woodburn.

Ms Saffin said she did the ‘pub test’ while in Woodburn and asked people at the Rod n Reel what they wanted.

“People want to stay where they are. Some have left the region, some stay,” she said.

Mr Lanyon said an announcement for Woodburn residents was “imminent”.

The funding for Summerland Estate is part of the State Government’s $100-million Resilient Lands Program.

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