Sol Ibrahim, Byron Shire Councillor
Regarding Dailan Pugh’s criticism of the development around the planned Byron Central Hospital, although I am not a member of a political party, and therefore need not defend the ALP, Nationals or Greens, I did vote in the affirmative on this matter.
The subject site is well short of the minimum lot size for rural land, and adjoins residences. Only intensive agriculture or animal husbandry would be economically viable on this site, which I am sure would be objected to by the neighbours. The Rural Residential Strategy is 15 years old and the Byron Strategy is 11 years old. Both are well past their use-by date. I can’t say why previous councils haven’t updated them. However, we have had a very broad community consultation spanning several years to create our 10-year strategic plan, and we are currently deeply involved in complex community consultations regarding our new Local Environmental Plan. Mr Pugh himself has been an invitee to at least one of these consultations, as well as being a valued contributor.
It is therefore inaccurate to assert that the community is being sidelined. It is well established that there are many members of the shire population that do not want to see any population growth occur at all. But this is only just one sector, and they are not ‘the community’. There are also many locals who rely on employment and housing growth so that they can raise a family, and hopefully see their grandchildren being raised here as well.
The West Byron project has gone to the state government for determination because the anti-population growth policy prevailed. It is a bit odd to blame a failure to consult the ‘community’ for the West Byron subdivision. Council has decided to seek approval for a re-zoning of the site, so that we can remain the consent authority over any proposed development. If we simply put our heads in the sand and hide behind out-dated strategies, then Macquarie Street will determine the matter for us. This is surely not what we want?
Finally, let’s really focus on the matter at hand. We have an ageing population. Many of our own shire’s locals will need aged care accommodation in the next decade. We want them to be close to family, friends, shops, hospital, ambulance and allied health services, don’t we?