THE amount of new housing developed in the Upper Hunter each year would need to nearly double to cope with the demand that could be generated if mining activity increases as expected.
More rooms are also needed to accommodate the mining industry’s transient workforce.
The state government has instructed its property developer Landcom to look beyond its traditional focus of Sydney and consider the needs in the Upper Hunter region, where the booming mining labour force is putting pressure on housing.
The government’s draft land use strategy for the Upper Hunter, released this week, said Landcom had begun investigating.
It found Singleton had enough land zoned in the Singleton Heights area for 2000 homes. In Muswellbrook there was potential for an extra 1300 homes.
But demand could increase from 360 dwellings a year to up to 700 as more permanent workers moved into the area over the next three to five years.
The prediction is based on modelling of demand if mining output in the region increased by 60per cent in that period as a result of capacity improvements for the Port of Newcastle and rail lines.
As well, more adaptable housing was needed to accommodate temporary construction workers, ‘‘drive in-drive out’’ mine workers, as well as permanent residents and seniors.
In the short term, an extra 725 rooms, such as hotels, needed to be found.
Planning Minister Brad Hazzard said he believed Landcom should take a broader role in looking at the region’s needs, although the work would need to be done in partnership with Upper Hunter councils.
The government is also drawing up an Upper Hunter infrastructure plan, as Landcom said requirements such as roads would be
needed before housing could go ahead.