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State bureaucrats ‘foisting’ West Byron plan on council

An earlier protest against the West Byron development at Byron Bay Farmers Markets in 2014. Photo Sean O’Shea

An earlier protest against the West Byron development at Byron Bay Farmers Markets in 2014. Photo Sean O’Shea

Updated 11am: A meeting between Department of Planning and Environment (DoPE) bureaucrats  and Byron Shire councillors to discuss the department’s preferred development control plan (DCP) for the  West Byron development has been postponed due to the region’s weather emergency.

A planned  protest by Byron Residents Group (BRG) and the NSW Nature Conservation Council (NCC) outside Byron council chambers in Mullumbimby will also not now go ahead.

But a BRG spokesperson has described the move ‘as an effort to foist an appalling DCP for West Byron on us before the election.

Cate Coorey described the DoPE plan as ‘poorly thought out and deliberately vague’.

She said that usually DCPs are exhibited publicly for community input but that ‘as with the rezoning, we are being shut out from the DCP process’.

‘A DCP should be a council’s essential tool for ensuring orderly development of zoned land.

‘This one is a political tool to again over-ride council’s rules and pander to developers – and the majority on this Council is letting it happen.

Since former Greens councillor, real estate agent Rose Wanchap, defected over the issue the pro-development group now has control of the council.

Ms Coorey said that while the department had used ‘feel-good buzzwords’ to describe the West Byron plan but the community had serious concerns about the lack of adequate amenities.

‘This suburb is to be bigger than Mullumbimby but there is no requirement for the provision of the kind of social infrastructure commensurate with a suburb of that size,’ Ms Coorey said.

‘They are creating a soulless suburbia with minimum human services to ensure maximum yield from as many lots as possible,’ she added.

She queried why there was no provision in for ‘childcare centres, schools, a post office, affordable housing, or even recreation facilities and adequate useable open space?’

‘There is no innovative design or infrastructure such as passive solar lot layout, integrated water management plans, energy management plans or community gardens.’

She said it would be ‘the only large development in Byron Shire that doesn’t have a Tree Preservation Order, does not need to comply with the development standards for Flood Liable Lands, management plans for Acid Sulfate Soils, drainage works, site filling, native vegetation, wildlife corridors, or threatened species.

the developer’s own reports identified the need for mitigation measures for impacts on koalas, the nationally threatened wallum sedge frogs, wallum froglets and blossom bats.

‘There is no real staging plan for this development – it must be staged to minimise impacts on Byron.

‘There is so much that is missing from this DCP and now is the time to put these essential elements in or lose the opportunity forever – it will not happen through the good will of DoPE or the developers.

 


5 responses to “State bureaucrats ‘foisting’ West Byron plan on council”

  1. Cr Sol Ibrahim says:

    The statement ascribed to Cate Coorey above, claiming that I and other so called ‘pro-development’ Councillors are ‘letting’ DoPE override Council’s rules is so untrue that it borders on being a lie.

    We asked to have this DCP written by Council many months ago, and this request was refused. This fact is on the record. By the time this Council was elected, the DoPE zoning process was well under way. Councillors have no more authority over the DoPE in this matter than any member of the public. Recommendations made by us with regard to a number of design parameters have not been adopted by DoPE. The DCP has been inserted by DoPE into the 1988 LEP without our consent or choice. Consequently, the minimum lot sizes we inserted in the 2014 LEP will not apply to this DCP.

    The fact remains that this whole situation rests with the previous Council which refused to properly consider an application to rezone land that had been identified decades earlier for residential ‘investigation’. By doing so, that Council guaranteed that the owners could apply directly to the DoPE under a procedure which I believe was created by the NSW Labor Gov. Had the previous (Greens controlled) Council acted responsibly, they could have zoned the most appropriate parcels of land, in a staged manner, and created a DCP that reflected the aspirations of the Shire.

    Councillors saw the DCP for the first time last week. We have many questions to ask DoPE, and we hoped to be given a genuine opportunity to make constructive improvements to the document at today’s (postponed) meeting. The above article contains so many inaccurate statements it is impossible to refute them here. It is a shame that readers have only been given the unsubstantiated and untested claims of one unqualified person to form their understanding.

    • Andrew Murray says:

      Cr Ibrahim,
      Call someone a liar and you need to explain exactly what that lie is. Please.

      Because reading the original posting and your response, it isn’t clear. Then you say “The above article contains so many inaccurate statements it is impossible to refute them here. ”

      It’s far from an impossible task, just one you have failed to do.
      This forum provides plenty of room for an extended and detailed examination of whatever inaccuracies you care to specify and correct.

      It would also be valuable if you could refrain from blaming previous governments (local and state) for the situation you find yourself in with this Council, especially as you seem to be oblivious to the Machiavellian operations of the current government in producing the disastrous community outcome over the West Byron rezoning.

      I am glad you are working on better outcomes from the deplorable process that has been the West Byron rezoning. Your constituents anxiously await evidence that Council and the community can have their say about controlling the form and character of what gets built at West Byron. The mess of unresolved social, environmental and infrastructure impacts and lack of suitable statutory controls are liabilities that Byron can kill afford.

  2. BOYD KELLNER says:

    This Liberal/National government in 2011 made a ”song & dance” about have local communities being involved in any decision making process regarding building, housing developments approvals in their localities, especially ones that were or are likely to be controversial.

    This has turned out to be a complete farce as far as West Byron is concerned.

    The sooner community understands, that these decisions are made by the very people who control the political and economic power the better. All the spin by the proponents of West Byron does not alter the fact that this development if allowed to proceed will fundamentally change the character and quality of life as we know of Byron Bay.

    March 28, 2015 state election is our chance to vote with our feet and show convincingly that Byron residents reject this profit driven abomination of a development

  3. Dailan Pugh says:

    I find Sol Ibrahim’s attempts to blame everyone but himself for having the Government impose West Byron upon us disingenuous. Sol had every opportunity to use his position on Council to support community concerns. He would not support the motion to defer rezoning of West Byron while comprehensive traffic and Acid Sulfate Soils studies were undertaken.
    He would not support applying the protections identified in the Draft Byron Coast Comprehensive Koala Plan of Management (KPoM) to West Byron, and has stopped adoption of the final KPoM for the past year. Under State Environmental Planning Policy No. 44 (Koala Habitat Protection) Council has been required to prepare a KPoM since 1995. The lack of protections applied for Koalas is clearly Sol’s responsibility.
    Since 2007 Byron Council has been required to prepare a Growth Management Strategy to give the community a chance to have a say on where new development occurs. This is also squarely Sol’s responsibility. Not only hasn’t he delivered but he has voted to overturn previous Council resolutions not to proceed with West Byron or Ewingsdale 101 until the required Growth Management Strategy was prepared.

  4. Cate Coorey says:

    Cr Ibrahim,
    Ad hominem attacks on this forum are not becoming of anyone but as the spokesperson for the Byron Residents’ Group I accept they may be forthcoming. Since I didn’t name you in particular as “pro-development” in a recent article I think you protest too much — although you obviously know who the pro-development councillors are. Anyway, since you raised it, you are proving yourself by the very actions listed by Dailan Pugh as not only pro-development but pro-over-development.
    Added to your active support for an overdevelopment position evidenced by your voting on Council, you have also been telling community members in writing that you support the West Byron mega-suburb and the Ewingsdale “seniors” suburb because you believe that Byron needs to have much more people so that we have a much bigger rate base so we can pay for the impacts of tourism etc. I would like to see a Growth Management Strategy prepared so you can put forward some actual modelling on this theory. Was it part of your platform when you ran for Council.? I assume it is based on some kind of planning theory so please point us to your references. I would like to know the projected full impacts of increasing Byron’s population by 30-40% – around what West Byron would likely deliver — without counting any other development .

    Byron Residents’ Group IS pro-development. We support sustainable development that follows the rules – the gazetted Far North Coast Regional Strategy, the Byron LEP – or what’s left of it — the Coastal Management Strategy, and the many instruments that should deliver to us a place that is still liveable in our own lifetimes and that of our children — at the very least. Your pro-over-development position has shown you actively flout all of these planning rules.

    I have been accused of falsehood before in this paper – by Stuart Murray, the developers’ spokesperson. He said BRG was scaremongering by spreading falsehoods about the 1100 houses we claimed were going on the West Byron site and that it was more likely around 850. Did you write anywhere in a public forum that he was (almost) a liar when the new SEPP was delivered with not 850 but a minimum of 1500 lots allowing further subdivisions to enable potentially 2000 dwellings?
    Were you and your pro-development colleagues lying when you said often that we had nothing to worry about because the DCP would come back to Council and Council would be in control of what happens at West Byron and all would be well? Because so far it hasn’t turned out to be true.

    I would be talking to the real perpetrators of the “untruths that are almost lies” in this scenario – Don Page, the Department of Planning and the developers because what they are delivering to us – aided and abetted by this Council who have opened Byron’s doors wide to every carpetbagger developer — is the utter despoiling of this town.

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