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October 8, 2022

Court reserves judgement on Bangalow project

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Bangalow residents and Byron Shire Councillors address the onsite meeting at Bangalow's A&I Hall on Thursday (September 11). Photo Wayne Penn
Bangalow residents and Byron Shire councillors address the onsite meeting at Bangalow’s A&I Hall on Thursday (11 September). Photo Wayne Penn

Chris Dobney

The NSW Land and Environment Court has reserved its judgement on a controversial development in Bangalow’s historic Station Street for a building with eight shop-top residential units and three shops which Byron Shire Council had rejected twice previously.

The second proposal was the result of court-enforced conciliation between the council and the proponents, with council rejecting it after pointing out aspects of the shire’s Development Control Plan and enforceable height limits in the new LEP had not been complied with.

Commissioner Susan O’Neill has reserved her judgement following hearings on site at Bangalow and at Tweed Heads Local Court last Thursday and Friday. The hearing concluded 3.30pm on Friday.

Byron Shire Council’s development assessment and certification manager, Wayne Bertram, told Echonetdaily, ‘all the information has gone into the court and the court will now take council’s role in determining whether the development is allowed to go ahead.’

‘The commissioner hasn’t made the call yet but has all the facts, which she now has to consider. No date has been set for a determination but it is normally done very quickly,’ he said.

‘Council has vigorously defended its case,’ he added.

Mr Bertram commended the people who made submissions to the court, saying, ‘the public were very passionate about Bangalow but very well behaved.’

He added that while the previous LEP had 11.5m height limit for Station Street, the current is just 9m, which is exceeded by the proposed development.

Bulk and scale

‘The court also looked at the bulk and scale [of the proposed building], traffic and the impact on the neighbourhood and heritage values,’ Mr Bertram said.

Bangalow Chamber of Commerce had similar concerns, stating in a submission, ‘it is grossly oversized, it will dwarf the historic A&I Hall at the head of Station Street. The proposed bulk and scale of the building will have a negative impact on the environment and surrounding buildings and are contrary to the public interest.’

The group also queried what future impact there might be on the use of the A&I Hall for concerts and events if the new neighbours found they were affected by noise.

They described the proposed mock Georgian style of the building as being ‘in total contrast to existing buildings and not at all sympathetic or aesthetically suitable for the existing buildings.’

The chamber had further criticisms about car parking issues, the density of the development, and added ‘the proposal is inconsistent with minimum 25 per cent of floor space for commercial purposes as per DCP-D3 Mixed Commercial/Residential development.’

‘Our streetscape is vastly different from the proposed development at 9 Station Street. If this development is successful it will set an unsightly precedent for the future development of Station Street given this developer also owns another piece of Bangalow heritage he is wanting to develop,’ the chamber warned.

Tony Hart, of Bangalow Progress Association, shared similar sentiments, describing the development as ‘totally unsuitable for the site and for Bangalow’.

Heritage value overlooked

Don Osborne, a Bangalow-based independent architect and heritage consultant, spoke on the heritage value of the street and the impact of the proposed development.

He was also critical of council’s own heritage report, which he said had ignored the nature of the existing building on the site.

‘Council’s own independent study didn’t list the actual building individually. It relied upon the building being in a conservation zone for protection,’ Mr Osborne told Echonetdaily.

There are some aspects to the existing building which could be removed but I believe the existing building should remain and the site developed around it. It would just be a less intensive development,’ he added.

‘The existing building was built by a local builder/carpenter around the turn of the [20th] century for his mother and was lived in by members of the family for a long period of time.

‘It has a good degree of pedigree and quite a lot is known about it. There are some unique features about that house. There are also archeological aspects to that site. It’s had a mixed number of uses and that should have been dealt with by the heritage report and it has been completely ignored.’

Mr Osborne said Station Street was ‘fairly unique’ in terms of heritage.

‘The buildings are not massive masonry buildings like Byron Street. Even the A&I Hall is a timber frame building.

‘Putting a massive masonry building in that street is not the right thing to do in regards to the heritage nature of that particular street.

 – Additional reporting by Wayne Penn


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