Senate committee hears affordable housing concerns
Chamber of Commerce chairman, Glen Costello, identified Alstonville, Wollongbar, Broadwater and Wardell as areas which were being under-utilised in planning for Ballina's future growth.
"We need to grow our smaller villages," he said.
He made particular reference to state government-owned land at Wardell, saying it was suitable for future development because it had access to basic infrastructure including sewage facilities.
Earlier the inquiry heard the shire had about 400 hectares of land available for residential development.
But the Chamber of Commerce acknowledged coastal land prices were beyond the reach of people in middle-and lower-income brackets and suggested the villages be considered for affordable housing.
Clarissa Huegill said the biggest hindrance to residential development in the villages was the lack of public transport to take people into the Ballina retail and industrial areas for work.
But Mr Costello said village industrial areas could also be expanded to create more employment closer to any new housing development.
Climate change and rising sea levels were also a major concern with many low-lying areas around Ballina expected to be inundated.
"We need to create villages in the higher areas. We must have planning processes that look at what infrastructure will be needed to live in a place in 20 years time," Mr Costello said.
Clarissa Huegill also mentioned the example of Riverbend Resort housing estate for over 50s, where retirees own their home but not the land it sits on. An innovative model of affordable housing, it may be suitable for both retirees and first-home buyers.