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Byron Shire
February 4, 2023

Multi-storey carpark plan for Byron revived against staff advice

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Cr Wanchap's multi-storey carpark plan is 'premature' according to Byron Shire general manager Ken Gainger.
Cr Wanchap’s multi-storey carpark plan is ‘premature’ according to Byron Shire general manager Ken Gainger.

Hans Lovejoy

Cr Rose Wanchap is again pushing for Byron Shire Council to develop a multi-level carpark/retail precinct in Byron’s CBD, and the issue will be raised at this week’s Council meeting.

The idea is aimed at creating residual income for the cash-strapped council, yet repeated advice from staff is that the project is premature.

And while she has requested that a study – including a retail component – be included with Byron Bay’s master plan, staff have pointed out, ‘a multi-level car park has been included in the brief to consultants previously.’

The Lawson Street north carpark is positioned between the First Sun Caravan Park, the pool and the top end of Jonson Street. Its current capacity, according to staff, is 90 spaces.

In her background notes, Cr Wanchap claims that 360 extra parking spaces ‘could mean council will be able to generate $2m to $3m per year with very little outgoings.’ A top floor function room/rooms are also included in her plans, which she claims ‘will be very successful owing to the popularity of Byron Bay.’

The carpark would also be accessible by turning from Lawson Street, just before the roundabout.

Access was previously available; however, that was closed some years ago.

Additionally the ex-Greens councillor wants the West Byron developers to consider paying for it from promised voluntary contributions.

So are staff in support and what would it cost? According to a staff report from last year, the cost would be in the $8m ballpark. And nope, they don’t think it’s a good idea.

Not yet anyway.

General manager Ken Gainger wrote, ‘While the commercial advantages of locating a future multi-level car park within the Lawson Street north car park are recognised, many in the community see such a shrine to the motor vehicle being placed in such a visible location as a blight on our attractive foreshore precinct.

‘Asking McGregor Coxall to undertake a feasibility study… would be asking them to undertake work that is contrary to the strategic direction that is being formulated, as espoused by Mike Cowdy at council briefings last week. Perhaps a better way forward is to await the master plan and then determine how a multi-level car park fits within that plan and where it would be appropriately located.’

‘Two Lanes In’

And in a somewhat pointed statement in her notes, Cr Wanchap says it is ‘clear’ that ‘providing a second lane into town will relieve some of the bottle-neck and long hold-ups on Shirley Street.’

Cr Wanchap recently gained the support of fellow councillors Hunter, Woods, Ibrahim and Cubis to ask staff to prepare for a contentious plan to widen the road into town on Shirley Street.

Known as the ‘Two Lanes In’ project, it will cost approximately $200,000 and aims to provide a continuous second in-bound lane commencing 50 metres north of the Shirley/Butler Street roundabout in Byron Bay through to the Lawson/Jonson Street roundabout.

But it was unsupported by staff and critics claimed it would only move the traffic congestion into the town.

Additionally, it appears muddled within the context of the bypass plans, with a ‘community handout’ describing ‘Two Lanes In’ as ‘separate from (but to be considered in conjunction with) the bypass project.’

A request by town planning consultants McGregor Coxall to hold off with the plan until theirs is complete was rejected by the majority councillors.

When asked what supporting evidence there is for the claim that the second lane will relieve the bottleneck, Cr Wanchap replied to The Echo, ‘A second lane has been the subject of numerous reports and studies, as has a multi-level carpark on the Lawson Street north carpark. [Former Greens mayor] Jan Barham tried to get the second lane in on previous occasions but was unsuccessful.’

But while Ms Barham says she supports widening Shirley Street up to the roundabout opposite the Caltex station, she told The Echo it was too problematic to continue across to the next roundabout.

‘Making two lanes across Lawson Street to meet Jonson Street was considered unachievable owing to State Rail’s unwillingness to allow widening of the road, among other reasons. This has all been tried before’, she said.

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  1. Cr Wanchap was trying to find a carpark and table down at the Pass on the weekend. I felt like asking her what she thought it would be like at the Pass, Wategoes, and at the Capt Cook and Tallow Beach carparks once her West Byron is built.

    She’ll probably be cashed up and on the move to destroy another town by then.

    Please leave – NOW Rose – take the lane out to the Pacific Highway and GO!

    She’s come in on a Green ticket and are like a rogue pro-developer moron to our shire!

  2. My knee jerk response is a positive one. Flow vehicles into this will help with circulating traffic and thus relieve the bottle neck. (and do something about the roundabout at the police station)

    But there are so many negatives that would have to be answered to have it work effectively. .
    As for how the building looks? Well there are a host of gifted designers who can make things look good.
    I would imaging car parking fees would pay for it? No?
    But there are other options…park and ride for example….halving the current parking limits to create double the car spaces and stop circulating cars looking for a spot to name just two.

  3. Right now, movement and access is the featured item on the Master Plan website http://www.byronbayourplan.com.au/. They say “Key points to consider when evaluating and strategising ‘Access and Movement’ are as follows
    – Street Hierarchy and Traffic Volume
    – Access and Parking
    – Pedestrian and Cycle Network
    – Public Transport Network”

    Surely these councillors can see that it is much more important to add their ideas to this bigger picture. Is there some reason why they cannot join all the rest of us, community and world class specialists, in this planning process? Is there some profound reason that they must exempt themselves?

    Take a look at the website and take a bigger part in this. Support community.

  4. How can they be so blind? Can’t they understand that these proposals will ruin Byron Bay by turning it into another traffic congested heartless coastal town? That millions of dollars will be needed to adequate the existing infrastructures to the influx of vehicles and new residents? Countless places have been sacrificed to cars and overdevelopment, please don’t do the same here and consider public transport and bicycle lanes as an alternative and, above all, stop West Byron. And if they don’t know how to do it, as it seems, it is not a discredit, on the contrary, to seek the advice of experts in this particular field.

  5. Rose. Why are you so hell-bent on destroying this town? Wait for the outcome of the Masterplan before pushing any more of your ‘bright ideas’ on our community. Your ‘vision’ of Byron Bay is terrifying to many of us who can’t wait to see you voted out of council at the next elections.

  6. A shrine to the humble sausage was erected this week on one of the most highly visible and iconic sites in Byron. On the grassy knoll at main beach park, the revered BBQ is proudly mounted on a large concrete slab and protected by a prominent timber and colourbond roof that slopes shoreward, following the contour of the sandbank. It successfully manages to look functional and attractive, while it also intrudes and obscures the beachfront views. Its location provides an incredibly open and exposed, windswept venue for all enthusiastic Masterchefs who love sizzling those kebabs and prawns while checking out the waves and the babes on the beach.
    Many in the community might see this new shrine to our beloved BBQ,placed in such a visible prized location as a blight on our attractive foreshore precinct.

    Just a few metres to the right of the BBQ installation is the new futuristic toilet experience.
    The two unisex fully automated toilets have replaced the suite of male and female ablutions that until recently adjoined the surf club. These new public toilets are totally reliant on a steady supply of power just to open the door, so the prospect of being trapped inside provides that extra thrill! The toilet cubicle talks and plays music and may even offer encouragement if you linger too long or praise for a job well done.

    It’s called a self-cleaning toilet because instead of the patron pushing the button it automatically flushes when you wash your hands or open the door. However no sexy robot appears to wipe up the spills and near misses – and I’m not sure how the voicemachine will respond to vomit, drug use or sexual activity. Perhaps there’s a CCTV camera or emergency phone linked to someone who cares?

    Another interesting feature is the prominent location, around 50 sq metres of once grassy parkland is dedicated to these ablutions. Everyone entering and leaving the toilet is fully exposed to all the parents and kids, swimmers and picnickers hanging in the park. I’ve noticed a few of the more theatrical patrons bow on the way out, but hopefully it will deter the perverts. We won’t ponder where all the people go on a busy crowded day … but we may find a lot more floating snags baking on the seashore.

    No doubt we have Council to thank for these recent “improvements” to our public facilities. While the new facilities are very welcome, the location of these structures demonstrates why we need inclusive, effective consultation and planning before they are erected on our public parklands.

    The failure to protect and appreciate the value of open space and unimpeded breathtaking views reflects poorly on our land managers and leaves our beautiful iconic beachfront precincts once again blighted by inappropriate development.


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