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Byron Shire
May 24, 2022

‘Watered down’ West Byron motion passed

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Cr Sol Ibrahim: his motion on West Byron trumped mayor Simon Richardson’s at Thursday’s Byron Shire Council meeting.

Hans Lovejoy

A move by mayor Simon Richardson to ask the state government to defer rezoning West Byron again has failed to get support from a majority of fellow councillors.

Instead, Byron Shire Council will request that concerns regarding one of Byron Bay’s largest ever urban developments be addressed to the minister’s ‘satisfaction’.

The mayor’s concerns, which are echoed by the Byron Residents’ Association, are that traffic and acid sulfate soils studies are inadequate. They are asking for them to be more specific and comprehensive.

Additionally, Cr Richardson asked that any decision be held off until the Byron Coast Comprehensive Koala Plan of Management (KPoM) and the soon-to-be-completed Local Growth Management Strategy (LGMS) is released. The mayor also called for a baseline assessment of the Belongil Creek and estuary to be completed.

‘Minister’s satisfaction’

But an amendment by Cr Sol Ibrahim, seconded by Cr Rose Wanchap, saw a watered down request made to the state government. The motion reads: ‘That due to concerns raised by members of the local community, Council will write to the planning minister Pru Goward requesting that prior to making a decision regarding the rezoning of the West Byron Urban Release Areas the following matters will have been addressed to her satisfaction:

‘1. The traffic study has followed RMS guidelines and reasonably considered all the likely impacts of the traffic generated by the proposed residential and commercial developments.

‘2. The Acid Sulphate Soils Study has been produced and considered in accordance with the Department of Planning’s Acid Sulphate Soils Planning Guidelines.

‘3. That all koala habitat on the site has been identified in accordance with SEPP44 procedures and that it will be protected from damage and disturbance.

‘4.That all other environmental and ecological aspects have been considered in the rezoning.

‘Furthermore Council will seek funding for a baseline assessment of the Belongil creek/estuary from appropriate government departments, including from minister Goward’s.’

Disgusted: Cr Woods

During debate, the mayor said that the development is something that has waited ten years, and should wait a little longer.

‘This is not a discussion on merits; that comes later,’ he said. ‘This is about respecting the community’s wishes for it to be a clear, transparent and trustworthy decision.’

But Cr Di Woods spoke against the mayor’s deferment. ‘It reminds me of the fluoride debate. You say ten years in waiting – that is disgusting. We should be able to determine developments much sooner. Under the previous mayor it was refused, and council said we didn’t have the resources. The developers said they will supply the resources but it was still refused. I have seen people who own that land go bankrupt. It’s not the proponent’s fault that this is with the minister. Acid sulphate and traffic can be dealt with – let’s work with them, get the zoning and move on.’

Gallery objects

At that point, the full gallery murmured ’shame’, prompting Cr Ibrahim to say it was unacceptable for the gallery to interject.

Cr Ibrahim then moved his amendment and spoke in favour of the development while also expressing concerns for due process and environmental protection.

‘None of us want to see the destruction of the environment, but we all want the bypass built… No one is talking about employment – how many tradies are in the room?’

On a Thursday morning, it would be fair to say none.

Cr Richardson spoke against the amendment: ‘My motion gives more details: this has no consideration of planning or local growth management; this doesn’t mention a koala plan of management but instead is vague and broad.’

‘Least appropriate place’

Cr Rose Wanchap reminded the gallery that the development will be released over 20 years. ‘The market is not dictated by the owner, but the purchaser. It’s so expensive here because there have been no new developments in years. We are rejecting the possibility that our children could buy here… I have studied the reports, and believe due process has been followed. This has been on exhibition twice. Let’s take the risk.’

In Cr Richardson’s right of reply, he agreed the need for housing and jobs, but said that the, ‘Development Control Plan (DCP) is useless as the state government has gutted it; it only has to be considered. To put faith into that is staggering.

‘What is the difference between the Sunrise estate and this? West Byron is on lower ground, which will give more issues. It’s not the same. This is the last and worst bit of land to build on and the least appropriate place for such a development,’ he said.

Amendment ‘lacks strength’

The Byron Residents Group, which held a meeting opposing the development on Wednesday night, says the altered motion ‘lacks the strength to achieve the community’s desired outcome’.

‘This amended motion doesn’t ask any hard questions of the department and gives the minister plenty of room to offer standard replies to questions being asked,’ group spokesperson Cate Coorey said.

‘Many of our supporters have already been getting these simple and dismissive replies from the department,’ she added.

‘The amendment removed from the mayor’s motion a request of the minister that the Growth Management Strategy be in place before a rezoning occurred.

The strategy, which is a condition of the gazetted Far North Coast Regional Strategy, would allow the community to have a say in how and where development occurs in our area.

‘The amendment also removed the mayor’s request that the Byron Coastal Koala Plan of Management be in place before the rezoning is done as the proposed rezoning would allow for significant building in core koala habitat,’ Ms Coorey said.

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  1. The only good to come out of this (and I’m struggling to find the silver lining) is that, if anyone was in any doubt, it is now absolutely clear what position each of the councillors takes on this issue.
    So if you voted in Woods & Ibrahim etc. then you’ve only got yourself to blame if this horrendous development goes ahead.
    I know of several friends who criticised me for questioning their support for these ‘pro-developers’ at election time. Those same friends are now whinging that they don’t agree with the West Byron proposal.
    Don’t be fooled (kid yourself) next time around – and in the meantime make yourself heard!

  2. Cr Sol Ibrahim, Cr Rose Wanchap (who appears to be a wolf in sheeps clothing) and Cr Di Woods seem to care more for money than the Koala. They’ll be remembered for this when the Koala goes extinct locally due to their actions. You would think that if they cared for their community including the Koala more than money that it would be reasonable to scrutinise the threat of acid sulphate soils and to the Koala. Disgusting really! P.J. Hogan days are still alive and well and happening in Byron Bay. Can’t stop progress Muriel!

  3. Byron Bay real estate is special, desirable and yes, expensive – precisely because “there have been no new developments in years” as Cr Rose Wanchap has stated. The development controls put in place over the past forty years have made Byron what it is today. These controls need to be maintained so that Byron remains the unique and extraordinary place that it has become.
    Regarding Cr Wanchap’s observation “We are rejecting the possibility that our children could buy here…” Cr Wanchap should consider taking a loan on her Byron property and giving her children the deposit on a house in Ocean Shores, Ballina or Lismore. No one has a birthright to property anywhere in Australia. This is a ludicrous notion.
    Finally considering her closing remark: “Let’s take the risk”. I suggest the consequences are far too final and irreversible to be so glib. Good management is about not taking risks.
    West Byron is a disaster waiting to happen. Local and state government should work together to lock this land up as the environmentally sensitive swamp that it is and will always be.

  4. Maybe council needs to learn about sustainable living. Leadership is about trust and care for community and environment. If you don’t understand how the Earth works, Please get support from your community. Perhaps you could learn from research and save your self the Drama. Does council really know what it’s doing? Does council understand community wants to support good leadership? Do you want to be great leaders, or uninformed leaders?
    Warm Regards

  5. When voting time comes round be sure to scrutinise who you vote for!
    Lets try put people into power that represent the community and not the developers and the money.

  6. Councilor Wanchap said in her speech to Council “feel the fear and do it anyway”, quoting a popular 1980s self help book. If only the koalas that she wants to lock up in sanctuaries could get that message. They should be feeling the fear because Rose and the other pro-development concillors are trying to scuttle the Byron Koala Plan of Management by putting forward the idea of a koala “sanctuary”. Sanctuaries, where koalas are effectively caged to “protect” them, are proven to not work and cause further devastation of the koala population. A sanctuary is a device that allows developers to build wherever they like in koala habitat because they have “saved” the koalas by moving them somewhere else. It is called “greenwashing” and it is a PR exercise by developers that is a death knell to koalas.

    Sol Ibrahim sideswiped the Mayor’s motion because he wants to it to look he has taken into account community concerns about West Byron without actually really doing anything about it. HE probably got a bit nervous after seeing the size of the turnout at the meeting on Wed night. I understand that he told a person who attended that … claims were made that were not supported and were misleading and that there was no opportunity to ask questions. Sol and Rose left early and missed the questions that came after the speakers had finished. I would like to know what misleading and incorrect information was presented at the meeting. It all seemed well researched and well backed up to me. I can’t say the same about the dodgy ads placed by the developers and the misleading pamphlets that they put out.

  7. Rose also tried to hijack the meeting with her own issue – conflict of interest. Fortunately the MC shut that down as i don’t thin Rose had the sympathy of the crowd. Not her event, not her platform.

  8. We all must write to Minister Pru Goward and point out to her the utter insanity of this proposal. The guy from the Flick family whose land is continually flooded with God knows what from the sewage plant has shown that the sewerage capacity of Byron is not up to a development like this. Let her know that traffic siutation is dire, a bypass is a distraction and we’ll have to pay for it anyway and that the whole thing is WRONG! A developemnt can be scuttled if the infrastructure is not there. LEt her know NOW!
    The Hon. Pru Goward, MP
    Level 34 Governor Macquarie Tower
    1 Farrer Place. SYDNEY NSW 2000

  9. If Rose wants to feel the fear, then she should go to Yeppoon and discover the effects of Agnew. Keppel Island has been left in a deplorable state after the developer didn’t get his own way. Keppel resort was shut down, causing major job losses and business in Yeppoon to go to the wall. The old resort remains derelict. These councillors are playing with our future and are dancing with a man who has no concept of fair play.

  10. Somebody said “you get the government you deserve”….. and what do you have ? ‘ a watered down ……motion’ says it all really. G”)

  11. Sheer madness. Byron is set to lose so much from this decision. We have an opportunity in this incredible place to create a development that would showcase the very best in sustainable living – inspiring design alongside vibrant and thriving natural habitats. The development could engage people locally to assist in this process creating employment. We have so many skills here green building, permaculture, organic food production, sustainable arts. This development could essentially be a sustainable and ethical business attraction for Byron potentially earning far more and attracting high value visitors from around the world and Australia to see this type of development. Rather than hold conferences in fancy hotels or on the beach in marquees this development could have a venue that hosts business visitors and provides a space to learn practical sustainability education that they can take back to their organisations.

    Sol is a fool to align himself with Rose she is a loose cannon and it will only be a matter of time before she fires in his direction ….

  12. People in Byron Bay its sad to see you going the way of the north, not heard and over ridden. Where Koala habitat and old growth habitat that Koalas need was given the flick on major festival sites. To add to the West Byron problem you will have your own festival site with up to 5 festivals with 3000 people on the old Club Med site that will add even more traffic congestion. Plus it going to the State for determination… well good luck with that one… remember we are open for business and development with the standing government. Remind the minister how will schools, hospitals,water, garbage etc. and the insufficient old infrastructure that Byron has cope with this many new homes, will they be renewing this if this development goes through. There was a reason the the rural strategy didn’t allow to many new home blocks in Byron Shire. The saddest of all is that Byron is loosing its wonderful sense of community with the big end of town moving in. As for the remarks by our elected councilors (I was there) only three could see past there own or party agenda it saddening to see

  13. The democratic process was not served by any of the Councillors who voted against Simons’ motion. The large number of the Community at Chambers who suported our Mayors’ motion were visible, respectful and hopeful until it was clear that even though there was only one person ( a WB hopeful developer) who supported Sols’ amendment, and even though Simons’ rational and wise words regarding the reason for deferral, and importance of due process and community confidence in that process, received an ovation, the personal agenda of Woods, Hunter, Ibrahim, Wanchap and Cubis outweighed this communities unanimous preference for deferral. — I had asked these words of Council, but they fell on deaf ears.
    “If any councillor votes against this motion of deferment, and assuming a democratic process for which the rights of voting are a given, that in the name of the same process, the reasons for so voting against are provided here, and are consistent with the importance of the issue to the community they represent, and in a form which reflects a better informed, wiser and more profound knowledge of the issue. ”
    – This did not happen.-
    Someone came to us after the decision and said she will be “Locking On” if needs – Perhaps we will need to rally together again. We have stopped MacDonalds, Kentucky, Club Med and if we work together we can stop this too. Please like “The Byron Residents’ Group.” and help. – If you want to know who the main land owner is, google – Tower Holdings Casino Great Keppel, Terry Agnew, Great Keppel Island.

  14. I am saddened but unsurprised at this latest development. If you were gullible enough to vote for either councilors Wanchep or Ibrahim, then you could not have been bothered enough to read the form guide in relation to either before the last local election. The writing was on the wall, goodbye Byron, hello Noosa.

  15. Clearly the people who own the land have been actively putting their case to certain Councillors. None of those Councillors – Ibraham, Wanchap, Woods etc. would want to see THEIR children buying into this development – at high prices (because of the close proximity to Byron Bay) and slowly eeked out to keep the prices high. There was concern expressed at the Council meeting for the developers – no concern shown for the buyers with 25 year mortgages for housing on a wetland. Forty years ago a Gold Coast developer would have put a canal style development on this wetland – but surely that time has long past.
    Only three Councillors came out of this meeting with credibility – Mayor Richardson, Cr Basil Camerson and Cr. Duncan Dey.
    We will remember the rest of them at the next election – with a resounding NO.

  16. Being inspired by my three teenage daughters to attend the Wednesday meeting, I found it SO informative.
    They also were encouraged to see the turn out and the example of community having a say in what happens to the world they are growing up in.
    They are all disappointed by the decision made, seeing clearly that the community has not been heard, not consulted, nor scientific evidence truly considered.
    What a shame for our young people – it breeds a feeling of helplessness.
    We are all keen to support further community action to support sustainability and maintaining a beautiful Byron Bay.
    I only hope there will be a beautiful Byron for them to grow up in, since it seems that some of these developments will have devastating and irreversible effects.

  17. Ignorance and greed has trampled on common sense, democracy and community, and ensured the final destruction of Byron Shire’s fragile koala population. Crs Ibrahim and Wanchap, who do you really represent? Thank you Cr Dey, Cr Cameron and Mayor Richardson for your commitment and integrity.


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