Tweed tiny homes village idea starts council master planning
THE dream of an eco-village of 'tiny homes' to help the region's homeless is one step closer to reality.
Tweed councillor Ron Cooper, the driving force behind the Wardrop Community Village, said the initial design phase of the project, including the preparation of a draft site masterplan and some indicative concepts for housing design, was now under way.
"The WCV seeks to investigate the potential of the council to undertake a financially and environmentally sustainable development to respond to the urgent need for more low-cost and affordable rental housing within the region," he said.
Cr Cooper said the Tweed region has the highest level of rental stress in regional NSW.
"The current model for affordable housing is not delivering enough to meet the areas growing need," he explained.
Options for funding are currently being investigated. If the business plan stacks up, the council will seek a mix of grant funding and low interest borrowings. If this funding is not available, the project won't proceed."
The council-owned site is located along Wardrop Valley Rd and adjoins the Murwillumbah Industry Central Estate, about 5km to the southeast of the Murwillumbah town centre.
Cr Cooper said the aim of the village was to not only prevent homelessness but also its flow on effects into the broader community.
"(We want) to reduce the personal distress and the social disruption that comes with the fear of becoming homeless and prevent the downward spiral to depression, family violence, marriage break-up and the reduced ability to manage children," he said.
"Beside these tragic personal and family outcomes, there is the community costs of the diversion of health and policing services. There is also a disruption to the education of all students as the impacts of family collapse are played out at school.
"Intergenerational disadvantage will be triggered as children are rejected by the mainstream.
"Much of this can be prevented with the security, social support and affordability of Wardrop Village."
Cr Cooper said the pandemic had compacted many existing issues.
"The wealth gap continues to grow," he said.
"Younger people particularly are in a fragile position. They are often dependent on unreliable part-time and casual jobs in a tourism dependent economy. The housing ladder is out of their reach.
"Older women without adequate superannuation are also at risk of rental stress. They too deserve the security of Wardrop Village.
"Many people of all ages may never regain a job in the slow recovery from COVID-19. Their superannuation will stagnate and a return to the old Newstart payments will find them stranded in an ever rising rental market."
As part of the first draft of the Wardrop Community Village Masterplan, design consultant Diecke Richards has sought to further refine the original conceptual design to a level where preliminary costings could be carried out.
The council will now consult with a community reference group, including representatives from a number of housing organisations, before finalising concepts and undertaking wider community consultation.
The process will be used to develop the business and management planning stage which will determine detailed costings for all elements and the financial viability of the project.
For more information visit the council's website.