Michele Grant, Foreshore Protection Group
It’s been a short-lived victory for caravan park campaigners. Last August they were celebrating the adoption of Byron Council’s new caravan park licence agreements that included new boundaries and conditions for the Ferry Reserve, Massey Greene and Terrace parks.
An additional 2.5 hectares of ‘compulsorily acquired’ road reserve lands valued at $3.8 million were added to the Crown reserves and the Land Planning Management Authority (LPMA)/North Coast Accommodation Trust (NCAT) paid no compensation to Council or ratepayers.
Council also included new conditions to address longstanding compliance, access and amenity issues and sought to claw back some of the encroached lands for public use, specifically:
That Riverside Crescent and Ferry foreshore and boat ramp to be retained for public recreation.
That foreshore access at Terrace Park to be established with the legally required three-metre foreshore buffer zone and 10-metre building setback to be implemented, with a three-year timeframe for relocation of permanent sites on the foreshore. (Resolution 13-25, Feb 2013)
And finally, that part of Terrace roadway retained for road improvements and use of southern ‘encroached’ area to be limited to ‘primitive camping’ in peak holiday periods only.
These small hard-won gains benefit the whole community and were considered fair and reasonable, a compromise acceptable to all parties.
Unfortunately, park management saw a small win for the community as a massive loss to park revenue.
They have rejected the new licence agreement and have proven unwilling to negotiate or accept any outcome that does not include all encroached lands within the caravan parks.
Local government minister Don Page succumbed to LPMA’s frantic appeals and insisted Council undertake further ‘negotiations’ with NCAT/LPMA.
Instead of demonstrating leadership, strength and confidence in standing up for the community and strongly arguing the case for implementing the new licence agreements, on 9 May Council caved in and resolved to extend the 2007 park licences for 12 months at Massey Greene and Terrace Park, leaving the community in limbo for another year.
In allowing for an extension of the ‘old’ conditions, Council has formally identified and endorsed the use of extended park boundaries that include all encroached lands, for the first time.
Clearly it was a major coup for park management which can now entrench these latest ‘negotiated’ boundary agreements.
Council’s motion also requires NCAT to prepare and exhibit a draft plan of management for Massey Greene and Terrace Reserve Caravan Park within six months.
Inexplicably, a plan of management with an additional 1.2 hectares was added to the caravan park.
Council meekly reiterated its support for the new boundaries as defined in Council’s previous resolutions (12-627 and 13-25).
However park boundaries remain ambiguous as Council delegates will also ‘continue negotiations with the other affected parties to find agreement on maps and to define operational boundaries’.
The only thing up for negotiation is the foreshore land retained for public use, in the August licence agreement.
Will Council relinquish public ownership and recreational use of the boat ramp and Ferry foreshore?
Does Council forgo foreshore access in Terrace park and allow intensified camping 24/7, just metres from residents homes?
Which vulnerable, precious parcel of public land is Council proposing to relinquish for commercial activity and inevitable privatisation during their negotiations with LPMA/NCAT?