As the pressures of the housing crisis continue to grow, regional city mayors are calling on the New South Wales Government to take action. 

Regional Cities NSW – the peak body formed to lobby the State and Federal Governments over issues affecting regional communities in New South Wales – unanimously supported a motion to outline the worsening housing situation in the regions to State Minister for Housing and Homelessness Rose Jackson and CEO of the newly-formed Homes NSW, Rebecca Pinkstone.

The motion was put to the floor of a Regional Cities NSW meeting held in Wagga Wagga.

The motion seeks an urgent audience with both housing leaders to learn more about the State Government’s investment plans for regional cities and how it will facilitate on-the-ground solutions over the next two years to provide for social and affordable housing.

It further calls on them to outline any levers that may be introduced to incentivise approved private residential development being brought to market.

The motion was proposed by Mayor of Tweed Shire, Chris Cherry, who said that the Tweed was struggling with rising levels of homelessness and disadvantage due to a lack of social and affordable housing options.

“The urgency of the housing crisis across regional cities is dire, with the lack of housing contributing to a rising inability of businesses to attract workers,” Cr Cherry said.

“We are seeing increased levels of homelessness in the Tweed, along with increased anti-social behaviour as people become more desperate. What we need are tangible outcomes on the ground.”

Cr Cherry said that the Tweed’s housing affordability had significantly worsened following the COVID-19 epidemic where residents from the capital cities flocked to the Northern Rivers to escape lockdowns. The situation was further exacerbated after thousands of homes were either lost or damaged in the record flood of February-March 2022.

“It is incredibly frustrating to hear about the worsening housing situation in our shire when we have significant private residential developments already approved and ready to go but no lever to force developers to forge ahead in a timely manner,” Cr Cherry said.

Chair of Regional Cities NSW, Mathew Dickerson, who is also Mayor of Dubbo Regional Council, said that the State Government needs to stand up for the regions.

“Regional cities have to think outside the square to deliver for their local community and we need to put all options on the table if we are to tackle this generational problem in any meaningful way,” Cr Dickerson said.

“In some ways it is a good problem to have: residents want to move to our regional cities. Unfortunately we simply don’t have enough housing for the people who want to make the move to regional locations.”

Housing-related issues Regional Cities NSW will include in its submission to the State Government’s draft budget include a call for:

  • Continued support for regional housing needs
  • Continue to work with local government to increase the supply of social and affordable housing
  • Continued support for incentive mechanisms to improve land banking and the Build to Rent measure
  • Annual indexing of developer contributions
  • Ongoing support for the Local Infrastructure Renewal Scheme (LIRS)
  • Support the development of regional planners
  • Increase the density of existing affordable and social housing properties in regional New South Wales

Regional Cities NSW represents the 15 main regional cities in NSW including Albury, Armidale, Bathurst, Broken Hill, Coffs Harbour, Dubbo, Goulburn Mulwaree, Griffith, Lismore, Maitland, Orange, Queanbeyan Palerang, Tamworth, Tweed Shire and Wagga Wagga.

Featured image: Mayor of Tweed Shire Chris Cherry (centre) and Chair of Regional Cities NSW Mathew Dickerson (in suit and tie) together with mayors and general managers at the Regional Cities NSW meeting.

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