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Byron Shire
May 18, 2024

Bangalow overkill

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A massive $3.5M development application adjacent to the Bangalow A&I Hall was submitted to Council at the end of November. The proposal is for a four-storey development of eight flats, three shops and 18 underground car parks. It is totally out of character with the Bangalow village.

Council originally put the DA on exhibition until Christmas Eve. However public complaint won two extensions and now the closing date is 31 January.

Is it possible that the developer intended to squeeze through a massive development, capable of changing the character of Bangalow, without people noticing during the holiday period?

Is it possible that the developer, Gordon Highlands Pty Ltd, hopes to exploit the more liberal provisions of the old Byron 1988 LEP before it is replaced with the new 2012 draft LEP, which would prohibit the development?

On its website Council says it will assess the DA on the basis of its new draft LEP but it is questionable whether it will be able to do so as the old LEP is still in force.

Under the new draft 2012 LEP residential development other than ‘shop-top housing’ is prohibited, there is a height limit of nine metres (current DA is 11.5m) and a limit on the floor space ratio of 0.75:1 (current DA is 1.17:1). Nothing but a major redesign both of the proposed uses and scale of development will enable the DA to meet the new provisions.

If this development is approved, it is very likely that other property owners will seek to exploit the precedent created and make their own massive killing. The only loser would be Bangalow.

People in Bangalow are not anti-development. Development of appropriate type and scale would be accepted. But in this case the developer has not engaged constructively and in good faith with the community. There is still time for Gordon Highlands to demonstrate their good faith by redesigning the proposal before it goes any further.

Council should clearly demonstrate how it will assess the development so that the community understands the importance of becoming actively involved in the decision-making process and not rely on Council’s hopeful proposal to rely on a draft LEP prior to its gazettal. The current proposal does not merit being approved.

Perhaps Council should bring forward the gazettal of the draft LEP for this site so that there is no question that it is the primary planning document.

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