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Byron Shire
September 23, 2023

‘Tweed-style’ townhouses

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Simone Ormsby, Mullumbimby

Byron Shire councillor Alan Hunter made his pro-development stance clear in last week’s Echo (October 2), and he is not the only councillor of this view. A highly controversial precedent setting enormous two-storey five-townhouse development, squeezed onto two adjacent blocks in Station Street is being voted on at next council meeting. I’m wishing to alert residents to this alarming situation.

Cr Hunter spoke against BSC’s own planning department’s decision to reject this DA, mentioning the issues of privacy and loss of views as trivial. He claimed that privacy is a ‘two way street’; however, I don’t think it will be equal either side’.

If I choose to look up into a first-storey (3m from ground level) or second-storey window, one of five likely to overlook my property (window locations and shadow diagrams were conveniently left out of this DA), I may see a person or two looking at me, framed by a window; what they and the other four townhouse residents would see is my backyard, what I and my daughter do in it, who is over for lunch and so on.

The other difference is they chose to buy / rent a unit overlooking my backyard; I did not choose my house hoping five two-storey units would be built next door!

The other unfortunate property owner, on the north side, has five proposed ‘balconies’ looking directly over and into their house and backyard! One of many BSC planning department reasons for rejection was ‘unacceptable loss of privacy’ to neighbours. Would Cr Hunter like to live next door? As for ‘nothing can’t be fixed with screens’, how many boundary-suitable plants do you know that grow 8.6m high and how long does that take, Cr Hunter?

This DA was rejected by BSC town planners for numerous issues and breaches including bulk and size (height 8.6m), five units on a total area allowing a maximum of four, insufficient green space for rainwater absorption, failure to be in keeping with the style and character of the street as outlined by the Mullumbimby DCP plan Ch 11 and the Mullumbimby Settlement Strategy 2003 (put in place so modern buildings aren’t interspersed between older-style and heritage-listed houses, which this identified precinct contains), as well as unacceptable loss of privacy. For BSC actual objections refer to report www.byron.nsw.gov.au under Meeting Sept 27. Of course there will also be a loss of peace, quiet, clean air and the ability to relax in my backyard!

Why is this so important? If this DA is approved by Byron Shire councillors, a precedent will be set by which all homes on large blocks or adjacent blocks are in danger of being pulled down and two-storey medium-density units being built instead. It will be difficult for BSC to justify rejection of other similar DAs if this one is approved. This may not just happen in Mullumbimby but all over the Byron shire. This could happen next door to you. Goodbye beautiful green, character-filled quiet streets; hello Tweed Heads, sister town! Let’s all watch the corresponding drop in tourism and property prices while the developers make heaps of money.

If you want to stop this DA, lobby all of the councillors by email (addresses on the BSC website). If you’d like to help fight this precedent or sign a petition, contact me on [email protected].




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