An advertisement taken out by Byron Shire real estate agent and [former Greens] councillor Rose Wanchap in The Byron Shire Echo last week riled up readers who contacted the paper criticising its pro-West Byron stance as factually inaccurate and biased.
The Byron Residents’ Group responded by saying it ‘mimics the misinformation that the National Party is peddling.’
The group’s Cate Coorey said, ‘Ms Wanchap assumes that she knows better about West Byron – the arrogance of this position is exactly that of the NSW department of planning and the minister, who ignored the community in making the decision to rezone West Byron’.
‘Unlike Ms Wanchap and Ms Goward, we actually read all the reports properly – we didn’t just pick out the paragraphs that suited our argument. Like her over-development councillor colleague Sol Ibrahim, Ms Wanchap appears to be calling into question the integrity of Byron Residents’ Group.
‘Where did we say there were 240 koalas at West Byron? We have said it is core koala habitat vital to the survival of Byron’s coastal koala population.’
Tit for tat
But Cr Wanchap has refuted the claims, saying that ‘some political parties are peddling misinformation’ as well.
She told The Echo, ‘It would have to be the pot calling the kettle black after seeing Ms Coorey having a photograph taken with the Labor candidate supposedly ripping up the West Byron zoning approval.’
Cr Wanchap adds that as for reading or understanding the reports on the proposal, ‘The minister, the department of planning and [Byron Shire] Council’s planning staff have a plethora of reports that have been accumulated over a decade. Happy to share these if need be. Bring a few wheelbarrows.’
And both sides are accusing each other of questionable integrity.
‘The integrity of the BRG is in question – over the time the Save Byron Bay Koalas petition has been up, they have continually referred to and supported these fraudulent statements.
‘I quote, “The development will destroy most of the habitat of the estimated 240 koalas in the vicinity” (see screen shot of petition page on my Facebook page).
‘I am sure most of those who have chosen to support them would be surprised to know there were only two male koalas sighted across the site and that 90 per cent of the 105ha site is currently abandoned cattle-grazing grassland, which, according ecologists, is so fragmented it would be difficult to support a breeding koala population of any size.’
Meanwhile Ms Coorey asks ‘what studies prove that building more houses will make housing more affordable? Could Cr Wanchap also provide written assurance from the developers – and any future owners of the land – that they will not subdivide down to 150sqm trying to maximise their yield?’
Supply and demand
Cr Wanchap replied, ‘It is basic economics that supply and demand will dictate market values. Regarding only small lots across the entire site, can Ms Coorey name a NSW residential development where this has ever happened? It would make no sense at all for a developer to do this.
‘Society’s needs are changing and flexibility of product size and budget are required to meet the various needs. Applying a liberal dose of logic a variety of lot sizes would be most likely.’
Another claim by Cr Wanchap in her advertisement was that it will be an ‘environmentally sustainable estate’.
Ms Coorey replied, ‘That is up to her and the councillors to ensure.
‘If it wasn’t for community pressure, Cr Wanchap and the rest of Council wouldn’t even have the opportunity to work on a Development Control Plan (DCP) that will shape what actually is built on the site.
‘The version of the DCP that the department of planning was trying to rush through – that we managed to avert – was a Development out-of-Control Plan.
‘BRG would be happy to provide Cr Wanchap with any reports or studies that will help her to make informed decisions about West Byron rather than just parroting her National Party cronies.
Ms Wanchap replied, ‘ The department would have been reluctant to pass the DCP back to Council because of the highly abusive and often incorrect statements made by BRG and their followers. Council voted unanimously to request it be passed back which would have provided assurance to the department that the true merits of the site would be considered.’
Both NSW Labor and the Greens have promised to return the development to Council if elected.