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