Two sites for new floodproof housing in Kyogle, one in Richmond Valley

ABOVE: The February-March 2022 flood subsides from this home in Coraki.

Susanna Freymark

Where can we build new housing that doesn’t flood?

The Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation has identified 22 sites across the Northern Rivers that are suitable for flood-free housing development. Of these sites, 15 are ready for “immediate investigation”.

The corporation said the Resilient Lands Strategy could provide up 7800 homesites.

The draft report is available on the Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation website and you can give feedback until Friday, June 30.

Part of the $100million Resilient Lands Program, the report identifies land for potential housing development in each flood-impacted LGA.

In Richmond Valley, one site on the outskirts of Casino has been identified for new development in the program. The exact location was not given to “respect commerciality”.

One longer term development site and one immediate site have been identified in Kyogle LGA and one in Clarence.

The report summarised the flood damage to all Northern Rivers LGAs.

Richmond Valley

330 homes were destroyed or severely damaged in Richmond Valley

About a dozen were in Casino

Hardest hit areas were Coraki, Woodburn, Doonbah and dwellings along Woodburn-Evans Head Rd.

Kyogle LGA

Two properties were destroyed and 33 had moderate to minor damage.

The impact on primary producers was significant and estimated to be up to $200million of infrastructure.

Clarence Valley

10 homes were severely damaged and there was moderate to minor damage to 90 properties

By comparison, Lismore lost 600 dwellings in the floods and 10 suitable sites have been identified in the lands program.

Kyogle Council general manager Graham Kennett said the council’s role in the delivery of the Resilient Lands Program was not clear at this point in time.

“The short term site identified in the draft strategy within the Kyogle LGA was put forward by the property owner and developer, is already suitably zoned for residential purposes, is flood-free and has a staged approval in place for subdivision,” Mr Kennett said.

“This site was an obvious choice, particularly given that staged development has been occurring at the site over recent years.

“This site is in close proximity to the highest concentration of flood-affected dwellings in the Kyogle LGA and has more than sufficient capacity to cater for the relocation over time of all flood-affected residential properties, if the program allows.”

The corporation had 320 responses to its callout for land that closed in February.

The report will be on public exhibition for four weeks, then there will be community consultation and the final strategy put together after that.

The first sites will be available early next year. Many people have asked the corporation if they can move their existing home to a new site at one of the identified locations.

The answer is yes. For instance, someone who has been approved for a buyback can move their house – at their own cost – to one of the sites.

Homeowners who may be eligible to receive a buyback have been invited to do a survey about their household’s needs and preferences for relocation.

The corporation is working on developing each proposed housing development site differently. If it did everything from scratch it would only be able to provide up to 300 homes, it said.

The report is aimed at providing 7800 new homes through partnerships with the State Government, social housing and councils.

The promise of 7800 new homesites is exciting.

The reality will be determined by the delivery by the NRRC, councils and developers.

Many residents are still waiting to hear whether they are eligible for buyback, house-raising and retrofits.

The recovery is complex, and the wait excruciating for those who want to move forward.

The development of these new sites offers a whole lot of hope and there is the potential for this program to make a real difference to housing in Richmond Valley and Kyogle LGAs.

To do that, NRRC chief executive David Witherdin and his team must meet their words and proposals with action.

For more information on the Resilient Homes Program buyback stream, visit the NRRC website.

Richmond Valley Council was contacted for comment.

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