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Byron Shire
April 18, 2021

Bruns plans are a visionless imposition

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The location of caravan park boundaries at Brunswick Heads has been one of the most contentious issues facing North Coast Holiday Parks since 2000. Boundary issues were discussed in detail in submissions by Council, Foreshore Protection Group and Bruns Progress Association and in many individual submissions, yet these important issues were not raised in the report on submissions or clarified in the plans of management recently adopted.

Are the public walkways along the riverbank publicly owned and outside the caravan park boundary or part of the commercial enterprise under the management and control of the NCHP? Where is the foreshore boundary of the caravan parks – the medium high tide line (currently the reserve boundary), the top of the riverbank (BSC preferred boundary) or the fenceline of the walkway (retaining walkway in public ownership)?

In approving the POM the newbies – minister for Crown lands Kevin Humphries and recently installed trustees, chaired by Alan Revell, have also decided to ignore the Local Government Act and Council’s long-standing directive to reinstate a 3m buffer zone and 10m building setback along Simpsons Creek in Terrace Caravan Park. Council included this legislative requirement in the new licence agreement in 2012 and their comprehensive submission on POM.

The Trust claims it considered the impact on park operations, site constraints, significant vegetation, and permanent residents and ‘has made provision for ongoing public access through the holiday park as currently exists, subject to reasonable conditions’. Relocating foreshore sites would enable foreshore rehabilitation, protect vegetation and fulfill the community’s aspiration for the reinstatement of a continuous foreshore pathway along all the riverbanks through our Crown reserves.

Remediating the foreshore would enhance park operations and enable a far more realistic assessment of site capacity. This is clearly too hard for the newbies to comprehend, and willfully resisted by our Crown lands managers.

Compliance and setback issues detailed in multiple submissions over the past decade have also been airbrushed and ignored in the report on submissions and POM.

The new POMs have allowed commercial activity to expand onto adjoining road reserve and Crown parklands, zoned coastal wetlands – granting permission for an activity that would be prohibited without NCHP/Crown Lands’ very dubious claim to ‘existing use rights’. What other developer could argue that encroaching onto adjoining land and intensifying park activities beyond the licence conditions enables them to continue operations as an ‘existing use’?!

It certainly helps, when you’re both landowner and developer, to also have the ultimate decision-making authority to grant approval to your own visionless project.

Confidence in government is at an all-time low. Those faceless backroom bureaucrats have ignored community and Council input and produced a pretty shabby outcome that will adversely impact on our caravan parks and Crown Reserve parklands, on our community and amenity.

Michele Grant, Foreshore Protection Group

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