Housing Strategy vital to future growth for Upper Hunter

October 20, 2014

A roadmap for tackling the Upper Hunter’s housing issues has been produced, with a wide cross section of industry, community, the housing sector and business all agreeing that a government-coordinated housing strategy was necessary for the region.
Making improvements to community lifestyle, reducing rental costs, providing social and affordable housing for the community, as well as highlighting the importance of attracting developers to the Hunter region were just some of the items participants agreed should be investigated at a recent meeting as part of the Upper Hunter Mining Dialogue. 
“Although the heat has certainly come out of the housing issue since we began our research in 2013, it was great to see the workshop seize on breathing space as an opportunity to plan ahead for future growth,” said Claire Doherty, NSW Minerals Council Director Planning Land and Community.  
“All three local councils have already begun to work on addressing housing issues, and the workshop unanimously agreed tackling many of these issues through cooperation between the three councils and the NSW Government would provide real benefits.”
The workshop is the final stage of the Upper Hunter Mining Dialogue’s Housing Research Study that has been underway since 2013. The research has been guided by the Housing Research Steering Group, which represents industry, state and local government, community and business.  
Deputy General Manager of Singleton Council, Gary Thomson, who attended the workshop and is a member of the Housing Research Steering Group said “Singleton Council has been preparing a Housing and Accommodation Strategy since 2012. The challenges of such a strategy have altered to an extent since we started due to the changes in the mining industry.”
“The opportunity to work with the NSW Minerals Council through the Dialogue has allowed our Council to get a  better understanding of the current trends and drivers of housing affordability from a Regional and local perspective. Our Strategy will be adopted by Council in October this year and many of the actions have linkages to the Housing Research study findings.” 
There were 22 different groups represented at the workshop including a number of the region’s miners, the NSW Minerals Council, private and not-for-profit housing providers, Singleton, Muswellbrook and Upper Hunter Councils as well as the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet, NSW Housing and the NSW Department of Planning and Environment.
The feedback and recommendations have been captured in a workshop report. The aim of the housing research has been to gain a better understanding of the drivers of housing affordability and availability in the Upper Hunter, and identify how government, community, industry and the housing sector can work together. You can view all of the housing study reports on the Mining Dialogue website.
The report will be provided to local councils and government to aid their efforts in tackling the region’s housing issues. The Department of Premier and Cabinet will consider how the NSW Government can respond to the ideas and actions identified by the workshop.  
“We’ve also asked Andrea Young Planning Consultants, who undertook the research, to provide advice on the next steps that can be taken by local and state government to progress the collaboration which we’ll share with all participants in the workshop,” Claire Doherty said. 
“The Upper Hunter’s mine operators are looking forward to working with local and state government on an Upper Hunter housing strategy.”
Enquiries about the Housing Research Study should be directed to Claire Doherty, Director Planning, Land and Community | cdoherty@nswmining.com.au | 02 9274 1407

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