One region in NSW is so short of affordable housing one council has had to knock back repeated proposals for "donga" shed-style housing.
Liverpool Plains planning and regulatory services manager Hannah McCauley was just one of several council, developer and not-for-profit representatives who told the state government's regional housing taskforce New England North West roundtable on Wednesday that things need to change.
The region has a shortage of rental accommodation so severe it has caused "rent bidding", she said.
"We have a lot of people approaching council under the guise of wanting to assist with the housing shortage and their solution ... is to install what are colloquially called dongas," she said.
"They're effectively like a demountable. To my mind it's not an appropriate housing solution and someone's socio-economic status shouldn't mean that they effectively have to live in a shed.
"In the month that I've been here we've had I think five of these types of inquiries."
Gunnedah Mayor Jamie Chaffey told the taskforce the local housing shortage was a "very hot topic" in the town. Gunnedah's "two speed economy" of high-income miners and low-income residents on fixed income creates two very different kinds of pressure on the housing market, he said.
Landbanking - the practice of deliberately not starting work on a buildable project to wait for a better price - and a shortage of local construction companies had made it near impossible to meet demand.
"We've got a huge amount of job vacancies in our community, which is very frustrating. Two months ago there were 10 business that were surveyed and there were more than 200 job vacancies in just those 10 business and we've got about 1800 registered businesses in the shire," he said.
"We need housing to bring people into the region. We want the population, but it's [housing] one of the biggest inhibitors in our community."
Gunnedah planning director Andrew Johns said so many businesses had lost development opportunities - some for foreign export - that he had "lost count" of the number.
Tamworth Regional Council planning and compliance director Gina Vereker said the bigger city had some 3000 vacant residential blocks hooked up to sewerage and water with nobody building them. Many developers blame the banks' lending conservatism, she said.
The regional housing taskforce was established by the state government in July to advise it how to remove barriers in the way of developing affordable housing in rural NSW.
Made up senior members of the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment and the Department of Regional NSW, the panel has spent the last week virtually touring the state.