Plans for seniors housing, aged care facilities, a supermarket, retail premises and medical facilities have been put to the state government by Byron Shire Council for ‘Gateway’ determination after they were tabled at last Thursday’s meeting.
The proposed development would be located on agricultural land either side of the proposed Byron Hospital on Ewingsdale Road.
But before it’s given the nod, councillors will seek to impose conditions, including traffic and noise impact reports, sewage management clarification, heritage assessment of ‘buildings and surrounds’ and an assessment of possible site contamination, due to its former usage as a cattle dip station.
Council has also requested a master plan that will ‘adequately address’ the requirement that aged care facilities ‘are constructed prior to, or concurrently with, the retail/commercial precinct to guarantee that the seniors housing component is constructed.’
Deputy mayor Diane Woods told Echonetdaily she was in favour of the development despite voting against the plan with Cr Basil Cameron.
‘My opposition was to the change in the recommendation that required the developers to make a plan that includes construction of the residences prior to or concurrently with the retail section,’ Cr Woods said.
‘I don’t think it is right of Council to instruct the applicants how to do their development as we are not privy to their financial arrangements and it may not be possible to comply with such a restriction.
‘If it is impossible to do so, then the whole development could fall over and that is not in the best interest of the applicants or our community.’
Despite no starting or completion dates being announced for the proposed Byron Central Hospital, Belbeck Investments Ltd, on behalf of Inverell based company Jewelbond Pty Ltd, is seeking a rezoning to allow the development proposal.
Within the lengthy and repetitive 209-page document for the proposal, Belbeck Investments claim that Byron’s ageing population ‘is expected to almost triple from 2,760 in 2011 to 7,660 in 2036, making up to 17 per cent of the population.’
And while it spruiks the economic benefits it would provide and its desirable location, the proposal fails to mention any impacts on neighbours.
There is however, a community consultation component in the plan which would provide an opportunity for submissions.
Council planners said the proposal ‘may be inconsistent with the relevant regional and local strategic plans as it is promoting urban and commercial development on land not identified for such purposes.’
While claiming it ‘is not sound strategic planning’ when viewed in the context of current strategic plans, staff say the proposal ‘does provide social and economic benefits for the community in a region with a rapidly ageing population.’
Additionally it’s argued that ‘substantial areas of both parcels are clear of vegetation’ and the location is ‘generally flat and contains no high conservation vegetation’.
‘Habitat value is limited to a watercourse in the eastern parcel. The subject land is located immediately adjacent to the Ewingsdale settlement and is in close proximity to the Pacific Highway.’