Byron Bay is hardly a sleepy little village – 1.7m tourists visit each year; I would have to say the horse has bolted. Nineteen thousand ratepayers are already hosting and paying the price of visitors from outside our shire. Adding 1,000 more families to share the burden of caring for our roads and infrastructure will add to Council’s – and the shire’s as a whole – bottom line.
We need to look at ways we can fund ideologies. Voluntary planning agreements paid by developers are a way of securing funds to rehabilitate lands that have been sadly neglected for many decades.
Koala habitat that has never had a single extra tree planted for decades could become a mecca for new life and be made into a wildlife sanctuary where tourists could be given tours and educated on the proper care of them. Entry fees could be charged to fund research into one of the major problems facing our koalas today: the koala retrovirus.
Via the DA process Council will be able to direct how this subdivision will look. We could have a state-of-the-art, award-winning ecovillage.
The state government has requested a VPA (Voluntary Planning Agreement) of $7,000 per lot which could potentially see $6m made available to assist with traffic issues.
Almost two thirds of the 250-acre site is cleared, abandoned grazing land; some of it has been this way for decades, hence the present zoning since 1988 of ‘urban investigation’. The remainder of the land, approximately 50 acres, has some ecological value. Perhaps Council could be granted dominion over this land in a voluntary planning agreement.
This is my vision and mine alone. I am just one of nine who will need to make these decisions in coming years. I believe if we all come together in a spirit of unity we could achieve social and environmental justice for all of the inhabitants of our community, our little furry friends included.
Byron Shire Cr Rose Wanchap