The Byron Residents’ Group has commended mayor Simon Richardson for bringing on an urgency motion at today’s council meeting urging the state government to knock back the controversial proposed development at West Byron.
If approved, the planned estate of up to 1,100 dwellings in reclaimed wetlands would be the largest-ever development in Byron Shire
The future of the ‘state significant’ development is expected be decided by the government in coming weeks.
Cr Richardson said he was not opposed to development per se but that ‘it’s all about scale’.
‘A couple of hundred houses on that site would be fine,’ he told ABC radio this morning, ‘but a thousand is a monstrous addition’.
Cate Coorey of the Byron Residents’ Group said she was ‘pleased that the mayor shares our concern that the department of planning has not followed due process with regard to the rezoning, in some cases not even following its own guidelines’.
In particular, she said the department had allowed studies referring to significant koala habitat and acid sulfate soils to be withheld from public exhibitions concerning the rezoning.
‘They have also allowed a traffic assessment to be included that is seriously flawed and does not follow Roads and Maritime Services guidelines,’ Ms Coorey said.
‘These irregularities have meant that the community was not properly informed as to potential negative impacts of the development so they could not make an unbiased assessment about the rezoning.
‘The department has not demanded an acid sulfate soil study be undertaken of the site which goes against its own guidelines for rezoning. Since 77 per cent of the site is acid sulfate soil affected, the potential for major damaging impacts on Belongil Estuary and adjoining Cape Byron Marine Park is very real.
‘The developers have grossly underestimated the likely traffic impacts of West Byron. The Department of Planning and Infrastructure’s proposed zoning of West Byron allows for up to 1,100 houses rather than the 856 assumed in the developer’s traffic studies.
‘Byron Shire Council’s own 2009 traffic study assessed that the development of West Byron would result in a 12.6 per cent growth in traffic rather than the eight per cent claimed by the developers.
‘An adequate independent assessment of the traffic impacts of West Byron upon which the minister for planning can approve this rezoning is yet to be done.
‘Given that core koala habitat has been identified on the site, it would be premature to allow rezoning until a proper assessment of the risk to koalas is conducted that conforms to Byron Council’s Draft Koala Plan Of Management, which will come before Council in July,’ Ms Coorey said.