16 C
Byron Shire
October 18, 2021

Bruns foreshore walkway must be reinstated

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It would appear that Ordinance 71 is being used by the Trust of NSW Crown Holiday Parks (NSWCHPT) and North Coast Holiday Parks (NCHP) to thwart not only the intent and spirit of that regulation but the long standing community demand for a reinstatement of the foreshore walkway along Simpson’s Creek in Brunswick Heads.

Ordinance 71 was introduced in 1986 to address the problems that would occur with ‘existing’ caravan parks and changes in the new legislation.

However, in a politically motivated move, NCHP is obviously intending to use ‘the savings provisions in subsequent iterations of the Regulation’ in relation to the long term sites along the foreshore in the Terrace Caravan Park to do nothing to reinstate the walkway along Simpson’s Creek.

There a number of myths and stereotyping about the (a)  foreshore dwellings on the long term sites in the Terrace caravan park; and (b) foreshore walkway along Simpson’s Creek that are deserving of being debunked.

Long-term residents are tenants with rights and responsibilities under either the Residential Site Agreement or Moveable Dwelling Agreement.

Holiday vans come under the Holiday Parks (Long-Term Casual Occupation) Act 2002. Tenants do not own the site on which their dwelling is located.

Conditions of those agreements state that they can be relocated by park management and compensation may be applicable to cover that relocation.

The Residential Parks Act, being the current legislation, does not provide ‘existing use rights’ or concessions for long term tenants.

In the Terrace Caravan Park there are 16 occupied waterfront sites. An analysis of those sites clearly shows that two substantial dwellings are ‘holiday vans’ while NCHP owns and rents another dwelling for holidays.

Some residents were advised, when taking up residence in the park, they could be expected to relocate. Others have bought onto the waterfront in full knowledge of the controversy but were openly prepared to ‘take the risk’.

Others have made a lifestyle choice to live in the caravan park while renting out their home.

Others may have been caught out under caveat emptor or buyer beware.  In the plan of management (PoM), two dwellings, L120 and V11, are to be removed. This leaves 12 moveable dwellings to be relocated.

It is highly unlikely that any person taking up occupancy on the waterfront after 1986 would have ‘exemptions’ under Ordinance 71.

Such a claim would most likely be an abuse/misuse of the intent of the regulation.

Park management must accept responsibility for the location of any moveable dwelling on the foreshore after 1986 without complying with the new legislation. It then falls to management to compensate for any relocation.

Then there is the issue of compliance.

BCA Check Pty Ltd’s July 2012 report clearly identified violations of legislative requirements on site coverage, setbacks from internal roads, boundaries and adjoining dwellings among those dwellings occupying the foreshore sites.

Fire hazards featured prominently in that audit. These non-compliance issues are major and will have to be addressed.

The community has long fought for, not the creation of a foreshore walkway, but the reinstatement of it.

Even long term residents along the foreshore have acknowledged the existence of that walkway (Byron Shire News 14 March 2013).  It was subsequently block/barricaded by the actions the Terrace foreshore residents.

The urgency for the reinstatement of the public foreshore walkway, outside the boundaries of the caravan park is well founded.

Long term commercial leasing of all the parks was recommended in a confidential report prepared by Deplan to the then Department of Lands, Sept 2005.

There is not one scintilla of trust in these plans unless all the foreshore walkways along the Brunswick River are kept outside the operational area of the caravan parks in order for them to remain as an inalienable public asset.

The exhibited plans of management are not intending to provide public access along the foreshore of Simpson’s Creek now or in its ’5 -10-Year Vision’.  This is a case of the state ‘privatising’ the foreshore for its commercial purposes.

In the meantime, I can fully appreciate that at $110 per week rent, foreshore residents would be most reluctant to be relocated.

But unlike the private market, they are not facing homelessness.

Instead, they have wholehearted support to be relocated, within the same caravan park, at no expense to them.  That is something those in the private market could only dream about.

Patricia Warren, Brunswick Heads


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