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Byron Shire
January 27, 2022

Bruns reserve camping plans anger locals

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The demolition site at The Terrace Caravan Park.
The demolition site at The Terrace Caravan Park.

Luis Feliu

The recent demolition of a toilet block in The Terrace Caravan Park in Brunswick Heads built by volunteer members of the local progress association decades ago has sparked a new wave of concern about the lack of community consultation by the managers of the public crown reserve parks.

It follows plans by the NSW Crown Holiday Parks Trust (CHPT) to install half a million-dollars worth of demountable luxury units, with their own kitchens and bathrooms, in the creekfront reserve adjacent to the park which is used in peak holiday times for overflow camping.

Residents feared at least six historic Coastal Cypress Pines planted in memory of locals who died during World War I were earmarked by park managers to be chopped down to make room for the new upmarket camping accommodation.

But CHPT chief executive Steve Edmonds told Echonetdaily the installation of the camp kitchen would not require removal of any trees.

Mr Edmonds said the concept design for what he described the southern ‘precinct’ of the holiday park took into account the location of existing vegetation.

The Crown Reserves Annual Report 2012-13 shows that $445,000 was allocated to erect one cabin, three ‘ECO tents’ and to ‘establish a camp kitchen in the Southern end of The Terrace Reserve’.

Last month, the toilet/shower block in the central part of the holiday park was demolished to make way for a modern facility. A workman on the site said asbestos also had to be removed from the building.

That sparked concern by Foreshore Protection Group[ (FPG) members who say they had no prior notice of the demolition nor have they seen plans of the facility taking its place.

FPG spokesperson Michele Grant said the old toilet block was built in the 1980s by volunteer labour from the town’s progress association and gifted to the caravan park, then managed by Byron Shire Council.

Ms Grant said the park managers should have obtained normal development approval for those works from council as part of consulting with the community, but the CHPT claimed otherwise, saying they didn’t need to as they operated under the Crown Lands Act.

A spokesperson for the CHPT said ‘consent is given under the Crown Lands Act and that ’the Plan of Management (for the park) is approved by the Minister under the Act.’

MP and former Byron mayor Jan Barham tried to clarify the issue in parliament, putting a question on notice to six ministers, asking them whether residential communities and holiday parks on Crown Reserves are ‘required to comply with all of the licensing provisions of the Local Government Act 1993?’

Ms Barham also asked if they were required to comply with ‘all of the provisions of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 for any development that is to be undertaken?’

Tents similar to these at a Hastings Point caravan park will be used at The Terrace reserve in Brunswick Heads.
Tents similar to these at a Hastings Point caravan park will be used at The Terrace reserve in Brunswick Heads.

The government ministers responded that ‘Yes. Residential communities and holiday parks on Crown Reserves are required to comply with all applicable Acts, including the Local Government Act 1993 and the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.’

And while Ms Barham told locals the answer should clarify the issues and that council should ‘act accordingly over the need for DAs relating to some of the works and future plans’, Byron Shire Council planners agreed with the CHPT.

A council spokesperson told Echonetdaily that acting executive manager of planning, Sharyn French, ’confirmed that holiday parks on Crown Reserves are required to comply with all applicable Acts, including the Local Government Act 1993 and the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979’.

‘However, when there is a Plan of Management in place, there is no need for development approval when the works are for the purpose of implementing a plan of management,’ Ms French said.

‘The Brunswick Heads caravan parks have a plan of management which were approved and adopted in June 2014 by the state government.

‘Works can be completed under the State Environmental Planning Policy (Infrastructure) 2007 and therefore comply with the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979. Such works are considered as development permitted without consent,’ she said.

FPG, a group of residents and supporters which has been fighting for years to stop encroachments by the town’s three crown holiday parks onto public reserves and the blocking of public foreshore access along the creek at The Terrace Caravan Park, is not happy with the state of play.

The southern section of The Terrace Reserve at Brunswick Heads, used in peak holiday times for overflow camping, has had several historic coastal cypress trees there recently cordoned off.
The southern section of The Terrace Reserve at Brunswick Heads, used in peak holiday times for overflow camping, has had several historic coastal cypress trees there recently cordoned off.

Spokesperson Sean O’Meara said park managers were intent on removing the historic pines in the Terrace Reserve (used for peak-time overflow camping area) to make way for more cabins and accommodation to boost their coffers .

Mr O’Meara, whose octogenarian father Darcy grew up and lives opposite the reserve, said he believed ‘these luxury ECO tents with their own kitchens and bathrooms are totally outside their licensing agreements as the southern end of the Terrace Reserve is zoned Primitive Camping only’.

He sent Echonetdaily photos of simlar-styled tents he took a few years back at Hastings Point on the Tweed Coast.

‘Notice no trees around to cause any issues with these tents. They will say these are portable but there is nothing portable about the cement foundations that support these structures,’ Mr O’Meara said.

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  1. I am so disgusted. These ECO tents are an ecological disaster. Why do these people think they can fool us with inventing ridiculous titles when they mean the opposite of what they are actually saying. Has anyone else noticed how all the cockatoos disappear from the Terrace Reserve over summer when its packed full of massive camper vans? Where are the children going to play if these ugly “tents” are permanently erected. Its appalling in peak holiday time – watching the poor kids trying to play cricket on the public road because there isn’t an inch of space left between the caravans and boats and camper vans. And then when summer is over all the tourists go home and we are still left with a slum of extremely UN-glamourous structures for the rest of the year instead of allowing the grass to re grow and having open space for our kids to play on and welcoming back the birds….if there are any trees left by then. These are protected memorial trees. I am disgusted by the lack of respect of CHPT. What a waste of money to demolish a perfectly good functional amenities block and disregard the community volunteers efforts. It wasn’t that I’m getting too angry to write anymore.

  2. What an absolute load of rubbish and another useless beat-up of an article.
    The new bathrooms, and removal of the old bathrooms, were clearly outlined in the Plan Of Management (POM) which was on public display for months. The POM was also on display on the CHPT website at that time, and is still on display now. The FPG and the other commentors are wilfully ignorant of this issue, and most of what they complain about is pure conjecture (tree removal being the main point) and will never happen. The ECHO can print what ever they like about this issue as they know they are not accountable nor responsible to anyone. Same with the FPG. Neither the FPG nor the ECHO can prove anything factual about what they say. The sooner people stop believing this rubbish the sooner we can all move on.

    • Yes of course Geoffrey, you should know, as a resident of cheap waterfront living at The Terrace, where public access along the foreshore is blocked (but not for you and your exclusive bolthole there), and as a regular defender of park management for doing this (you wouldn’t want the rabble spoiling such a good thing hey Geoff), you not surprisingly go into bat for them, again. Wilfuly ignorant is exactly how you want to stay for obvious reasons. Why don’t you ever disclose that you are a beneficiary of park management not having to comply with setbacks etc? The thrust of the story was lack of consultation dear boy and that it was a community gifted toilet block that you and others there used…

  3. Hopefully people will take note of the facts in relation to the Coastal Cypress Pines in the southern section of the Terrace caravan park. In memory of those involved in their planting and the reason for it, the roll call is worth it.

    Their names are echoes from the past and their descendants ought to be writhing in anger at New South Wales Crown Holiday Parks Trust (NSWCHPT) and North Coast Accommodation Trust (NCAT) for what they have done and intend to do with the Coastal Cypress Pines in the Terrace caravan park. (Echo 28.10.14 “Endangered Trees under Threat’).
    From Bangalow the roll calls up the men from Beckinsale, Blanch, Reading. O’Meara, Miller, Boyle, Connolly Jackson, Sanson, Virtue, Armstrong and Slattery households. From Billinudgel, Mooball and Burringbar came Moffitt, Boyle, Kelly, O’Donnell, Devereau, Ryan and Riley. Brunswick Heads’ families included the men from Lofts, Souter, Riley, Devine, McMahon, Peoples, O’Meara, Wraights, Bashforth, Fordham, McDonald, Gray, Hodgers, Mc Leod, Walker, Coleman, Bell, Minchington and Coates. Byron Bay men from the Hatfield, Bannister, Reading, Smith, Timperley, Fredricks, Brownell, Werne, Walsh and Flood households joined in. Mullumbimby men included, the Ward, Mills, James, Richards, Hollingsworth, Healey, Harkness, Bower, Walker, Tarlington, Montgomery, Mules, Budd Mallam, Fisher, Lindsey and Guiran. Lismore was represented by Mr Stratford. These were the people who travelled in the back of farmers’ trucks and on horseback to plant the Memorial Pine Park of Coastal Cypress Pines in line with the river bank and the Brunswick Terrace.
    Many of these men had fought at Gallipoli and on the Western Front!
    Devastated by the impact of WW1, the families came together with a shared sense of loss. Co-ordinated by Arthur Beckinsale of Bangalow, these volunteers were organised into monthly working bees in the early 1920s to source seedlings, dig holes in sandy soil, and bring water from house tanks to the plantings. Later, a spear pump was sunk to supply the much needed water and boys from Brunswick Heads Primary School were ‘enlisted’ to pump the water, keep the 44 gallon drum full and carry filled buckets to the volunteers. Known as “Gunga Dins”, they were boys from the Bashforth, Peoples, Cornwells, Lofts, BAnnister, O’Meara, Wraight, Withers, Booty and Bell households here in Brunswick Heads.
    It wasn’t until the late 1930s was the work completed and continued to be tendered during WW2.
    Until 2 June 2014 all this land was outside the boundary of the Terrace caravan park. Used only for overflow tent sites at Xmas and Easter until Dec 2006, NCAT changed its use to all year round sites for caravans and mobile homes. Their proposed development plans for this area are concerned for the ‘integrity of vegetation on the perimeter of the holiday park’ only.
    Australian is currently engaged in celebrating 100 years since the commencement of WW1 and the Gallipoli landing. The voices of those old families and the rage of the RSL needs to be heard to stop the lopping of any of the Memorial Coastal Cypress Pines without, at least their in situ replanting.

  4. And moving on you will be Geoffrey. Blind Freddy can see that this is all about the privatisation of our best Foreshore Parklands. The state Government has gifted the NSW Crown Holiday Parks Trust (your site) to a bunch of developers. Check out nswchprt.com.au to see that the board and CEO are developers from Lend Lease, Westfields, Bunnings, McDonalds and Landcom.

    If this land (our Crown Land) is developed as they want and then leased out or sold to private enterprise, there is no way you or other long term residents will be allowed to stay paying $100 a week for your portable cabins. A brand new “glamping” (glamorous camping) tent will achieve $2500+ a week on your rented site and all this mob is concerned about is the dollar.

    If you worked with the vast majority of the community trying to stop these illegal developments on our public Crown Land foreshores by this so called trust, you still might be living in Brunswick Heads in a few years time. If they get their way you and all the other long term residents will be cleared to make way for the cashed up tourists. Go and ask for a signed permanent lease from these characters and see how far you get.


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