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Byron Shire
March 5, 2021

Sidelined on hospital land

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Dailan Pugh, Byron Bay

I was shocked to hear that Byron Shire Council has once again sidelined this community by endorsing a new residential and commercial development at Ewingsdale to be handed over to the minister for planning to determine whether it proceeds.

The proposal is to develop 15 hectares of mostly regionally significant farmland fronting Ewingsdale Road for 170 dwellings (on 250m2 lots), a 65-place residential aged care facility, medical centre, supermarket and shopping centre.

This proposed development is contrary to the 1998 Byron Rural Residential Strategy, 2002 Byron Bay, Suffolk Park and Ewingsdale Settlement Strategy, 2007 Far North Coast Regional Strategy, 2008 Byron Shire Local Environmental Study, and the current draft Local Environmental Plan.

Residential and commercial development of this land has repeatedly been rejected by the community. This specific proposal has also been rejected before. When it went to the previous Council on 10 February 2011 they resolved that the proposal should be considered in the Local Growth Management Strategy.

The 2007 Far North Coast Regional Strategy requires that Council prepare a Local Growth Management Strategy to identify how to implement a dwelling target for Byron Shire of 2,600 dwellings until 2031.

It is in the preparation of a Local Growth Management Strategy that the community is meant to be given a chance to have a say on the location and type of development it wants.

Back in 2008 Council also rejected the original rezoning proposal by the West Byron Landowners Group, in part because a ‘Local growth management Strategy for the Shire has not been prepared’.

We have still not been given a say on the promised strategy and yet the development of West Byron, and now Ewingsdale, seems a fait accompli. We just have to wait for the minister to tell us how big these developments will be.

The ALP and Nationals have shown that they are happy to sideline the community, now it is evident that the Greens also have no real commitment to strategic planning or grassroots democracy.

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  1. Although I am not a member of a political party, and therefore need not defend Mr Pugh’s criticism of 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 cant say why previous Council haven’t updated them. However, we have had a very broad community consultation spaning 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 St 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 aging 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?


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