The rhetoric has intensified over whether the West Byron mega-housing development, which was recently approved for rezoning by the state government, can be reversed.
Retiring Nationals MP Don Page told Echonetdaily yesterday that the option to do something else with the land was not available.
‘I’m advised by the Department of Planning and Environment that a rezoning that has been subject to a merit based assessment process over several years and gazetted by the minister for planning cannot normally be overturned by a minister,’ Mr Page said.
‘If due process has been followed, as it has in this case, there are no grounds to overturn the decision. The same applies to the creation of a new SEPP, or a court appeal,’ he added.
Mr Page told ABC radio earlier in the week that the Byron Residents’ Group (BRG) and ALP Ballina candidate Paul Spooner were ‘misleading’ the community by indicating the decision could be reversed.
But BRG have hit back, claiming it is Mr Page and the National Party who are misleading the Ballina electorate.
BRG’s Cate Coorey says, ‘Don Page is not telling the truth. We obtained legal advice that the minister for planning has the power to rescind her re-zoning decision for West Byron and hand the rezoning decision back to Council.’
‘We were unable to challenge the minister’s decision on West Byron because she has almost unfettered powers to impose whatever she wants upon us at West Byron. These same powers also allow her to change her mind.
‘Don Page and the National Party are the ones who have been peddling false hope. They said that they would protect koalas but are allowing a third of the core koala habitat on the site to be cleared for houses and shops and surrounding the rest with development.
‘They said that they would solve the traffic problem but they refused to assess the traffic impacts of the full development and the marginal benefits of their bypass will be overwhelmed by the additional traffic from West Byron.
‘They said they would hand planning decisions back to the community after they rezoned West Byron but now they are imposing their own Development Control Plan – which will say exactly what will go on the site – upon us.’
‘The National Party also misled the community by claiming that the development would only be for a maximum of 850 houses, yet in her final decision the minister increased the density by allowing subdivision down to 150m2 across all residential areas, now allowing 1,500–2,000 houses to be built on the site.’