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Byron Shire
April 19, 2021

OSCA’s view of the Roundhouse saga

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The people of Ocean Shores have endured for many years the steady erosion of public land from its town area. The town was planned to have 10 per cent open space. Every available small plot, piece of riverbank etc has been subsumed without public knowledge into nature reserves, excluding the community from access. One thousand hectares of the town’s area is now nature reserve, including the tiny 7ha parcel bought by Byron Shire Council for sportsfields.

The council’s tactics are to blame town residents for defending the Roundhouse site for community use. It claims Ocean Shores Community Association (OSCA) has stopped the Roundhouse sale proceeds from being put into Council’s infrastructure reserve fund to be spent across the shire. OSCA is being blamed for blocking a short stretch of road resealing and some bikeway/walkway construction in the town, which will be Ocean Shores’ share of the carve-up.

The discussion should be why is council in such a financial mess anyway? Why does the only piece of community land left to Ocean Shores have to be sacrificed to put a few coppers in the shire coffers?

It was the council who zoned the Roundhouse for community purposes in the 1988 Local Environment Plan, and it was only long after that the council reclassified the site to operational.

The community zoning of the Roundhouse site by the council in its 1988 LEP reinforced a component of the original 1969 deed of agreement that an art gallery would be provided for the town. A significant collection of northern Australian Aboriginal art was commissioned for the expected gallery. This was on display in the Roundhouse building.

In 1991 the council became the owner of the Roundhouse property, following an order of the Land and Environment Court to acquire it under the provision of the LEP. The acquisition had to be under the current zoning, which was 5(a) special purposes (community use). The court did not give the council permission to change the zoning.

The council had spent nearly $3 million in legal costs to defend its community purposes zoning. Council demolished the Roundhouse building in 1995 to make way for future rezoning, reclassification and sale.

OSCA has never been invited to meet with council to discuss these issues. When recent resolutions had to be made by council on the Roundhouse they were done as a late report and dealt with in closed session with no advertised public notice. Is this perhaps a conflict of interest of a public authority dealing in secret with matters relating to its own property interests?

We are hoping for the opportunity to start to explain why the Roundhouse is so important to Ocean Shores and why it could be of huge benefit to the shire.

Jan Mangleson, Ocean Shores Community Association

 


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