Letter: Affordable Housing Forum – what next

I am writing to express my thanks to the Bellingen and Nambucca communities.  Last week we saw more than 160 people come along to the Affordable Housing Local Solutions Forum and fundraising dinner.  

It was great to see so many people: from community members, service providers, real estate agents, developers, council staff and councillors engage in a constructive thinking about affordable housing approaches and solutions.  

As part of the forum we heard from the Mayor and the Senior Strategic Planner from Bellingen Shire Council and the NSW Chief Planner.  It was exciting to see the alignment between Gary White, the NSW Chief Planner, who encouraged us to be proactive and strategic with the work being done locally through the new Growth Management Strategy and the just released Homes for our future Bellingen Shire Council discussion paper.

The Bellingen Shire Growth Management Strategy provides us with an opportunity to shape who we are as a community, how and where we grow and also what as a community we do not want to see in our shire.  

The Growth Management Strategy is a genuine opportunity to shape the way our shire develops over the next 20 years. One of the big takeaways from the forum is how important it is for everyone, across the community, to become informed regarding the GMS, to be involved in the community consultation and to make submissions.

Too often, discussions around housing degenerate into finger-pointing, blame and disempowerment through overwhelm.  The opposite happened at the forum. The discussions focused on what can be done, how we can work together, what models exist locally and further afield that we can learn from or implement and how important it is to have safe, secure, well-designed and affordable housing.

We would like to extend an invitation to anyone interested to the follow-up meeting of the Affordable Housing Action Group on Thursday May 17 from 10am – noon at the Uniting Church Hall.  

We will be looking at the actions coming out of the forum and establishing a number of working groups to take projects into the future.  If you would like to be added to the mailing list, please email housingmatters@bnc.org.au

I’d like to express a huge sense of gratitude to the community who came along and also to the organising committee who worked so hard to bring it together.

Emma Belcher

On behalf of the Bellingen and Nambucca Affordable Housing Action Group