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Byron Shire
December 1, 2021

Parkway Drive weighs into Ewingsdale dispute

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Founder of the band Parkway Drive, Ben Gordon, in front of the sign at the entrance to the street. Gordon has joined the community opposition to the planned development at Ewingsdale.
Founder of the band Parkway Drive, Ben Gordon, in front of the sign at the entrance to the street. Gordon has joined the community opposition to the planned development at Ewingsdale. Photo Sean O’Shea


Ben Gordon, founder of the award-winning metalcore band Parkway Drive, has lent his band’s support to the Ewingsdale residents opposing the proposed seniors living development pushed on by a majority of Byron Shire councillors.

Parkway Drive takes its name from a street in Ewingsdale and Mr Gordon’s family home backs on to the proposed development.


In an email to Cr Diane Woods last week Mr Gordon pointed out he had lived in Byron Shire all his life and in Ewingsdale since he was six. ‘I am writing to you representing my whole band,’ Mr Gordon said, ‘[and] I am also representing a large demographic of like-minded younger people in Byron Bay as well as thousands of fans around the world that come to Ewingsdale every year just to take pictures of the street sign.

He told Cr Woods, ‘your decision to approve the Lot 101 development is utterly shocking and appalling.

‘Byron and Ewingsdale are very special places… And a massive part of this is the fact that it still remains somewhat unspoiled from repugnant developments such as this.

‘I’m not going to outlay the numerous reasons that this is wrong as far sewerage, roads, infrastructure, etc as I know you have heard these facts and they obviously have no effect. But if there’s one issue that should be important and listened to… it is this: the community does not want this.’

‘Golden years’

In reply to Mr Gordon, Cr Woods emailed that while she understood his concerns, ‘being quite young, you aren’t thinking of what happens as you reach the golden years and the needs that come with that’.

‘I can assure you that the kind of development that is proposed for this site is appropriate and much needed to service the needs of the aged in our shire. I can also assure you that the proposed development is a much better solution [compared] to other kinds of development that could occur on that land, eg cemeteries, crematoriums, transport terminals and many other unsavoury kinds of development.

‘The developers are entitled to develop their land but their wish is to do so in conjunction with the help of the residents who will be their neighbours, so that whatever finally goes on the land will be something that everyone can live with.’

Cr Woods also said she would ‘do my best to work with the community also, to help get something that is acceptable.’

At its October 9 meeting Council voted 5–4 to support the development proposed by Belbeck Investments, while residents called for an extra 28 days to consider the proposal.

At Council’s next meeting on October 30 Crs Richardson, Dey and Cameron intend to move a rescission motion on the October 9 resolution. If successful they will move for Council to put the proposal on exhibition for 28 days, with at least two community information sessions being held.

According to Mr Gordon, in the 11 years Parkway Drive has been playing ‘we have played 72 countries, received three gold records, two platinum DVDs, an ARIA award, Rolling Stone awards and have acquired millions of fans around the world’.


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    As a fellow member of Parkway Drive and concerned resident of Byron Bay I feel the response given by Cr Woods raised more questions than it did provide answers. I was also profoundly offended by the patronising manner regarding Ben’s concerns, dismissed on the grounds of his age. How old do we need to be to before this thinking kicks in? Old enough to visit your grandparent in local aged care as Ben does? Old enough for your mother in law to have worked in the sector as mine has? Old enough to watch a loved one pass away in aged care as I have? On top of the misplaced judgement of both character and experience is lack of respect given to the fact that we are in fact voters ourselves. We, along with the rest of the residents of this Shire have a right to have our voices be heard. I see no relevance in age, in the same way I see no relevance in gender,race, sexuality, religion etc.

    In regards to the development itself, we appreciate the need for aged care. Medical facilities are vital to any area, and we are aware Byron Bay is in need of more beds in the aged care sector. However, that is not the issue of concern. The concern itself stems from the lack of public consultation, the massive lack of information on what is a huge project, and the extreme speed at which it has moved through council proceedings and into approval. Below are a list of concerns and questions. Any information given by council on these subjects would be greatly appreciated.
    – In light of the amount of differing opinions voiced regarding other developments in the shire both present and past e.g, West Byron and Club Med, for what reason was this approved without public debate. From memory I cannot remember this development being mentioned in the past election. If no mandate was given on it by the voters of the shire, why has it moved forward without our inclusion in the discussion? If there is no problem with the application, why so little inclusion.
    – Why and how is this project moving so quickly? Cr Woods stated “The developers are entitled to develop their land but their wish is to do so in conjunction with the help of the residents who will be their
    neighbours, so that whatever finally goes on the land will be something that everyone can live with”. The fact is they haven’t, and still the project has been approved.
    – Options. It was mentioned by Cr Woods that there were many other unsavoury possible options for the site. Firstly, why was this mentioned? This is not a “best of a bad situation” scenario, or is it? Developers have no entitlements to develop their land, as stated by Cr Wood. They must have the approval of the council or the state and follow due process. Due to the lack of consultation, we have been handed an council approved development, on re zoned rural land as a fait accompli and have now been told that it is the better “solution”. We were unaware there was ever a problem. The reply given might in fact lead us to believe there could be. Is this the best? do we have no say? Is it develop or else?
    – Infrastructure. We all know the problems the town already have – how is this going to change it for the better or is it going to add to the traffic, parking and sewage problems we are facing. The lack of an RMS traffic study is in no way reassuring.
    – Funding. Aged care facilities are essential. There is no debating the fact. We would like to know however if the project been approved for funding at a federal level. These facts will greatly determine its ability to cater to the needs of the aged population of the shire. Will beds be affordable?
    – Zoning. What has lead to the rezoning of the area and again, why no consultation on this fact. Are there any plans for growth management of the new urban zoned area?
    – According to local media Belbeck have surveyed residents over 55 years to garner support. Where does this leave the other half of the voting population according to the age data of the latest Australian census? Surely this is market sounding, not true community consultation.

    Thank you for your time. We all love this town, we care deeply about its progression and like all shire residents we expect our elected representatives to include us in the conversation when it comes to such large developments, let alone ones that are quite literally happening in our backyard.

    Thank you
    Winston McCall


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