Regional communities across NSW are suffering from a double shortage blow. It’s a catch twenty-two between needing more workers across the board and needing more accommodation to house them.
Whichever way you look at it, one problem cannot be fixed without solving the other, especially when housing in regional areas is becoming both unaffordable and unavailable to those on medium to low incomes.
Modular housing is one of my big ticket items as NSW Nationals Leader, and it is one of the main solutions we need to look at to stem the regional housing shortage.
It provides a real opportunity to activate some of our struggling rural communities because it can be used as a short, medium and long term fix.
In the short term, modular housing makes sense because it is a way to get things built and ready to roll really quickly.
In the medium term, these structures can form new suburbs or parts of new suburbs in the bush, and longer term they can provide some of the answers around social and affordable housing into the future.
Why modular? Put simply, they are efficient, quick and easy to build and not limited by location. They can be built anywhere and transported anywhere for installation, involving either private, council owned or crown land, which we have done in places like Cooma.
Another reason we should back the ‘modern modular revolution’ is because they can be built to spec, in a range of different designs to fit with the needs of the community. This can mean one, two, or three bedroom designs to suit any worker.
There will also be an uplift in regional employment when it comes to the building and transportation of the modular homes, and as an added bonus they can be built in factories, which means no weather delays.
The companies that are already in the business of modular homes are very keen to be part of ongoing solutions, and I know they would relish the opportunity to be at the table talking about some of the ideas they already have. I have already met with some and we need to facilitate those discussions in a really meaningful way.
I think the key here will be partnerships and the State Government’s part in all of this can be providing the enabling infrastructure; so the power, the water, the sewer and in some cases working with councils on roads and curb and guttering. Labor should also work to smooth some of the pathways around planning to ensure there are easier pathways to allow these developments to occur.
When we talk about modular housing, we no longer talk about second rate housing options, but modern, comfortable and efficient homes, that are most importantly affordable options for our regional workers and residents.
State and local governments need to start looking at modular housing to unleash the potential of our regional towns and cities, and to make sure people see the bush as a home and not just a stopover.