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March 5, 2024

Minister backs dept on West Byron development

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NSW planning minister Pru Goward.
NSW planning minister Pru Goward is sticking by her department’s projected growth figures for Byron shire used to justify the controversial West Byron and Ewingsdale developments.

Luis Feliu

NSW planning minister Pru Goward has stuck by her department’s population growth figures used to justify giving the green light to the controversial plan to build 1,000 homes at West Byron.

A community group opposed to the development met with Ms Goward last Wednesday in Sydney to put residents’ concerns directly with the minister, who they say was being misled by her department about the supposed need for the housing development.

The Byron Residents Group (BRG) said state planners were ‘cooking up a planning shortage’ of housing in Byron shire that did not exist in order to justify the contentious development.

But in a reply to questions from Echonetdaily, Ms Goward’s office issued a brief response ‘from a departmental spokesperson’ saying that ‘based on population projections released earlier in 2014, Byron Bay will grow 18 per cent by 2031, which means the area needs more housing for the future’.

The response also said ‘the views of the West Byron community have been taken into account at every stage of the West Byron proposal with protection of the environment a key consideration’.

The West Byron development is being determined by the planning minister rather than Byron Shire Council, which has concerns about impacts on traffic, koala habitat, sewerage capacity and acid-sulfate soils.

Residents group spokesperson Cate Coorey said before the meeting that planning department population projections for the far north coast used to justify rezoning at West Byron and Ewingsdale were outdated and did not give an accurate picture.

After the meeting, Ms Coorey said the delegation ‘explained that most of the information that she had been receiving about West Byron was from the developers’ perspective. Their reports for this rezoning are incomplete, insufficient or misleading’.

The group also urged Ms Goward to ‘right the wrongs of the previous government and return planning powers to the council’ and discussed growth strategies, koalas, traffic, acid sulphate soils ‘and the need to meet community concerns about due process’.

‘The matter is still in the department of planning hands when it should be in the hands of the local
community and council,’ Ms Coorey told Echonetdaily.

Ms Coorey told the minister the local council was completing its own regional growth strategy update and asked that the process be respected.

The five members of the BRG delegation were Ms Coorey, Dailain Pugh, Yvette Steinhauer, Andrew Murray and Mary Gardner.

Ms Steinhauer told the minister of community concerns about the dangers of loss of koala habitat, Mr Pugh presented growth and development figures for Byron which showed why there was no imperative to develop more land to reach growth targets, while Ms Gardner explained how the site was long recognised as an acid soil hotspot.

Mr Murray asked the minister ‘why an isolated separately zoned precinct with externally‐imposed development controls was even being considered as a good way to further develop Byron Bay’.

The minister is expected to make a decision on the development in the near future.

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  1. I hate to be negative, but the writing is already on the wall and I don’t think it would make much difference if the BSC was involved. We see the type of mass development already around the shire that will proliferate, we see it at Suffolk Park already and quite a few other sites.

    The mass development strategy works because it’s easy for those with big money to do and it’s easy for planners etc to tick the boxes on….so expect more bland in Byron….If you want a bit of style go inland!

  2. This was hardly surprising. Goward told the leafy north of Sydney they were going to cop
    hostile rezonings to accommodate an 8 million-person Sydney.

    Goward is part of the immigration/construction/debt industry. The endless growth people. Our enemies.

  3. Why are Politicians always on the Developers side ? Maybe thats a question ICAC is answering right now as if we needed to ask . Independent councils were promised at the last election and now we get to find out what they mean by independent . Independent of the Community that lives there and the people that are elected to represent them . Labour had already inflicted the policy of imposing developments on Communities whether they like it or not trying to remove any means by which they can be challenged . The Liberals after much crowing before the election have adopted exactly the same policy . Only one solution vote them out , make sure it’s a resounding loss and let them know it’s an issue the community takes very seriously .


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