BIG TALK: Guest speakers will discuss affordable housing in a two-day event in Bellingen.
BIG TALK: Guest speakers will discuss affordable housing in a two-day event in Bellingen.

Summit targets cheap housing

AFFORDABLE housing will be the focus of a two-day event in Bellingen this week.

Four years ago Coffs Harbour was ranked fifth in a survey of the world's least affordable cities for housing, because of its low averge incomes in relation to the cost of average houses. This month Coffs Harbour Council reduced development costs for secondary dwellings.

The NSW country division of the Australian Institute of Architects has planned this week's architectural conference, which includes a public exhibition and a formal continuing education day for local architects and all others interested.

Tonight at 6pm the public is invited to a pop-up architecture exhibition in the new Bellingen Brewery up Church St Lane beside the hotel.

The exhibition is twofold, a showcase of built and unbuilt work in response to the State Environmental Planning Policy (Affordable Rental Housing) 2009 as well as the display of the current entrants to the Australian Institute of Architects NSW Country Division Architect Awards for 2015.

Tomorrow a full-day seminar titled What is Affordable Housing? will be held at the Bellingen Showground from 9.30am - 5pm with invited speakers from academia, practice and the community sector.

They will discuss the models of housing that are being researched, built and currently operating, as well as what the future may hold.

Speakers include Karine Shellshear (Community Housing Ltd), Adam Russell (RAW Architecture), Lachlan Grant (Happy Haus) and Duncan Maxwell (University of Queensland).

In his speech to the National Press Club in February, Australia's Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson described affordable housing as a human right, but said there was no 'one size fits all' solution.

"Affordable housing is a very important issue," said Bellingen architect Tricia Helyar, the creative director of the event.

"The big question is: what does affordable housing mean?"

Ms Helyar said while building material costs continued to rise, labour costs were the largest component of any building project in Australia, so building more affordably also meant finding how much you could do yourself without paid labour.

"It also means learning the lessons from 30 years of community housing and looking at models of ownership as well as building, 20 years in the future," she said.

"The Affordable Housing legislation came in 2009, but architects were calling for it when I went to university in 1991."

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