Narrabri's status as a growth centre has been underlined with the siting here of the North West region's first affordable housing project.

Developers Monkira Properties will start work in a few weeks on a $2.5 million six unit accommodation complex on the Shannon Estate.

"We have been endorsed by the federal government to undertake construction of two triplex complexes under the National Rental afford­ ability Scheme (NRAS);” developer Andrew Tilt said.

NRAS is designed to provide quality, rent subsidised housing to meet the accommodation demand in high growth areas like Narrabri.

The rental subsidy scheme encourages needed personnel to move to areas of high demand like Narrabri.
The applicants are means tested and must have an income level of $60,000 to $100,000.

Their rental is subsidised by the federal government.

Typically the renter pays 75 percent of the normal market rent and the NRAS scheme rebates the balance to the property owner.

The NRAS program is seen as a major plus for growing communities, the renters and employers.
"The scheme ticks all the boxes," said Narrabri Shire's economic development manager Bill Birch.

Rents inevitably rise in response to demand and a growing centre like Narrabri becomes a 'victim of its own success:
Young professionals and qualified people needed in centers like Narrabri may have the skills but not the income level to take up suitable rental accommodation.

"If an employer is seeking someone with particular skills, they can bring them here and the employees have access to the lower rental through the NRAS," said Mr. Birch.
"We see fantastic potential for growth in Narrabri and plan to build quality housing here to meet the demand:'

"The underlying strength of agriculture, the research sector and the developments in the energy industries are underwriting the growth."

Mr. Tilt said he had been encouraged by the proactive approach of the council's Economic Development Section and the support of the section's manager, Mr. Birch.

"Narrabri Shire Council has done its bit in providing positive incentives for development by creating the Shannon Estate and allowing the private sector to manage it.

"As a developer I minimise risk when investing and the fact that the council has underwritten the Estate is encouraging. It gives an imprimatur."

Marketing agent for the Shannon Estate, John Simpson, said Mr. Tilt had found the estate met all the requirements.
The triplex units will be high standard accommodation.

"The building blocks are large and designed to accommodate the right mix of residential and quality housing that we propose," said Mr. Tilt.
"Our custom designed triplex homes will complement the estate. The triplex is designed to meet peo¬ple's expectations of quality, without maintenance obligations.

"The triplex developments will comprise two attached and one detached building.

"Narrabri is at the stage where this kind of development is appropriate and needed:'

Mr. Tilt's company, Monkira Properties, has undertaken developments in Queensland and NSW and currently has projects underway in Nambour and Gympie.

Monkira is also developing an 84 lot subdivision at the Glasshouse Mountains.

Prior to undertaking property development, Mr. Tilt had a career in government service as chief of staff to Fraser Government minister, the late Kevin Newman, and was chief of staff to two Tasmanian premiers.