(Letter sent to The Editor, "The West Australian" newspaper.)

Tackling the Pilbara housing problem

There are new ways to tackle the drastic shortage of accommodation in WA's Pilbara coastal towns.

This shortage is stifling small-business, private, and government activities in Port Hedland and its neighbours.

Even if there was a ready supply of subdivided land available, with streamlined planning permission, the current position is so tight that building companies cannot find housing at affordable rates for prospective staff, and sometimes not even space for their own operations.

A short-term solution would be to buy up old cruise ships and use these as temporary accommodation.

A medium-term solution would be to build large floating concrete blocks of flats somewhere else, and float them in, like the British did with the concrete Mulberry Harbours used for the World War 2 invasion of France.

These blocks could be build by Australian companies working in Indonesian coastal towns, with large flotation chambers at their bases. After completion, each block could be towed over to the area of need and settled on the seabed by letting water into the chambers.

Blocks could also be equipped for specialist uses, such as hospitals, offices, or power stations.

In the longer term, a balance might be achieved between supply and demand using traditional building techniques. At that time, the blocks could be re-floated and towed to their next area of need.

David Noel
2007 February 16
Mail: PO Box 27, Subiaco, WA 6008, Australia.

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Last update 2007 February 16