If elected, NSW Labor will take plans for the West Byron development back to the drawing board, according to its Ballina candidate Paul Spooner.
Mr Spooner said Labor would terminate the State Environmental Planning Policy (West Byron Bay) 2014 that amended the 1988 Byron LEP so that the West Byron area sits within the 2014 Byron LEP. The desired effect of this is to rescind the recent rezoning of West Byron which enabled the go-ahead of the planned residential and commercial development of some 55 hectares on a 108ha site.
Bigger lot sizes
If the site sits within the 2014 Byron LEP, minimum lot sizes for low-density residential would go up from 450m2 to 650m2, and from 200m2 to 400m2 for medium-density residential.
Labor would also commit to handing back the development and approval of any development control plan for the site to Byron Shire Council.
Mr Spooner said Labor would support the proposition that any new proposal must include traffic reduction strategies for Ewingsdale Road, include larger and fewer blocks, support low-cost housing and ensure the protection of Belongil Creek and the local koala populations.
‘We need to act’
‘If I am elected to Parliament and Labor forms government, West Byron will not go ahead,’ Mr Spooner said. ‘The first conversation I had with [NSW opposition leader] Luke Foley was about the West Byron development and how we needed to act.
‘I want to see Byron Bay preserved, not wrecked. If this development proposal in its current form goes ahead, it would change life in our community forever.
Local conservation activist Dailan Pugh and Cate Coorey of the Byron Residents’ Group have welcomed Labor’s position.
‘This is an essential move, Mr Pugh said. ‘It will remove a lot of the residential density.
‘We hope we can go back to square one and have proper consideration of traffic impact, acid sulfate in the Belongil estuary and koala habitat.’
Ms Coorey also emphasised the need to consider social impact. ‘The existing plans could raise Byron’s population by thirty to forty per cent,’ she said.
NSW Nature Conservation Council CEO Kate Smolksi had planned to meet with residents protesting outside Council’s Mullum offices last Friday while Department of Planning staff met with Council staff inside. However, the wild weather meant the meeting was abandoned.
Ms Smolski said in a media release that the NSW planning department’s handling of the West Byron development ‘is one of the worst instances of administrative heavy-handedness we have seen’.
‘Planning minister Pru Goward needs to explain to the community why the West Byron development has been fast-tracked, because this is not a development of state significance and it does not deserve to have a separate planning policy to ram through development that the people clearly oppose very strongly.
‘Sadly, this is a consequence of the state’s flawed planning system giving developers undue influence.
‘The minister’s actions in relation to West Byron are a flagrant breach of the promise the coalition gave before the last election to return power in the planning system to the people.’
The Byron Young Residents Alliance (BYRA) in conjunction with the Byron Residents’ Group are hosting an all-ages community event and rally to Protect Byron on Sunday March 1. It will begin at 3pm with a march from Railway Park to Apex Park, Byron Bay, followed by entertainment from 4pm till sunset.
Parkway Drive leader Winston McCall will MC the event which features a number of local performers and appearances by surfer Dave Rastovich, Arakwal spokesperson Delta Kay and the Mana Aloha hula troupe.
See more information on the Protect Byron Rally Facebook page.
Ms Coorey said in relation to the Protect Byron Rally, ‘We hope to get a commitment from all [NSW election] candidates on the West Byron development.’