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Byron Shire
May 18, 2024

West Byron approval a betrayal of community

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Byron Residents’ Group is alarmed at the news that the Department of Planning has approved the rezoning of West Byron for a massive suburban development.

A statement from an anonymous Planning Department spokesperson announced on Friday morning that the approval was granted to ‘ease housing affordability’.

We are not surprised that the minister for planning, Pru Goward, didn’t make the announcement herself. Who would want to put their name to a project that is a betrayal of the community and involves the despoiling of our jewel of a town, a traffic nightmare, and the demise of our beloved koalas?

We are surprised that the rezoning got this far. The Department of Planning worked so hard for the developers to make it happen, despite everything counting against it as unsuitable by every measure.

Minister Goward has never been to Byron Bay – anyone who has been here would see what a disaster this development would be.

The housing affordability issue in Byron is about affordable rental, not houses. The hundreds of illegal holiday lets means that there is nowhere to rent. These houses will be no different – investment properties for holiday lets.

The Australian reported that Terry Agnew, the majority owner, intends to let 40 per cent of the several hundred homes he intends to build for the ‘affordable’ amount of $900 per week. His house prices are to start at $595,000 up to $900,000.

The department’s announcements say the approval ‘follows detailed consultation with community’, which is laughable. The approval follows a deliberate strategy of misinformation and ignoring of the community.

Minister Goward and her planning staff didn’t even follow their own policies and guidelines in this process, coastal policy, acid sulfate soils, koalas and traffic, to name a few.

‘This development has been referred to ICAC by Jan Barham, Greens MLC. There are some serious issues of inadequate and improper process around this development that need to be looked at.

There is no demonstrable reason for this rezoning to be decided by the state government, other than that some developers wanted it. There is no housing shortage, there is an oversupply relative to population growth. We have already approved enough housing to cover our growth needs up until 2020.

The announcement also trumpets the funding given to the Butler St bypass by the state government. The bypass is an insult to anyone of intelligence. What sort of bypass goes straight into the town centre?

If indeed the bypass did do anything to ease congestion then that would be swallowed up by the already approved developments at Sunrise and North Byron. Adding West Byron to that mix would be a traffic nightmare and everyone knows it.

This government, and elements of this Council, think that Byron Bay can just be sold off to the highest bidder, irrespective of what the people who live here want.

The community is very angry at this announcement. We know what we have here in this beautiful town. We won’t allow ugliness and destruction to prevail.

They are underestimating the people of Byron if they think we won’t be challenging this. We have always fought for this town.

Cate Coorey, president Byron Residents’ Group

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  1. Don’t let the government ,the developer or real estate agents fool you with the idea of affordable housing, it won’t happen.I have been buying and selling real estate in Byron Bay for 25 years and can say that affordable housing is a great selling point from developers but in reality doesn’t happen.
    Also local trade persons don’t expect there to be a flood of work building these houses, it will mostly be project builders from the Gold Coast .Check the building sites around the shire and see all the QLD registered trade vehicles. QLD tradespeople have lower business running costs and cheaper living costs so can afford to drive the 80km to Byron Bay every day.
    1000 new homes with 2500 new people but what jobs are available ? Looks like we will stay with the tag of being one of the highest unemployed regions in the state.
    Is $600,000 for a home what you would call “affordable housing” !

  2. Thanks for all your (ongoing) efforts Cate. I can’t believe these wankers are still rolling with the convenient justification that increasing supply will reduce cost. It is almost as mendacious as claiming that negative gearing benefits renters because landlords are ‘incentivized’ to invest in more housing thus putting downward pressure on price. But the ‘iron laws’ of economics work in ways that continue to beguile economists and planning ministers alike.
    Unfortunately houses are not bananas (as detailed in a recent article in the Conversation http://theconversation.com/going-bananas-over-affordable-housing-30029).

  3. Get over it you pretentious idiots. New homes create jobs and employment opportunities for all in every small town. You poor little thing, you have been developing and cashing in on overpriced real estate for 25 years in Byron and because someone else owns a site that is being developed, you feel hardly done by. Get a life you fool.

    • I wish this was a debate between ‘pretentious fools’, but in my humble opinion, I think the people that actually live and work in the town might have a bit of background, not to mention, a justified desire for some imput into the way their community grows. Pretentious Fools in my opinion are the people that seek to purely make profit whilst blatantly disregarding the economic, social and environmental consequences of an action, and then making tokenistic statements, like ‘we will provide affordable housing’. It must be a nice position to be in in this climate – trusting that the NSW Planning Department and the well oiled capitalist machine has your back, and that anyone with a considered view in opposition to a development like this, must be a ‘pretentious (lefty with no grip on reality?) fool’. If only that were the case. I’m sure our grandkids would be pleased you stood up and had your say.

  4. How does Byron Shire Councils Development Control Plan (DCP) work with the planned development? Is there any way to consult with the community at this point to ensure the developers actually provide ‘affordable housing’? Or should this have happened in the ‘community consultation’ phase?


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