Hans Lovejoy & Chris Dobney
Byron resort sparks more resident opposition
Plans by the Elements of Byron resort to adjust its boundary have caused a stir with the Byron Residents Group and environmentalist Dailan Pugh, who claims the proposal ‘makes a mockery’ of Byron Shire Council’s subdivision rules.
Headed by Queensland coal barrel Brian Flannery, the developers at the old Becton site at Belongil recently riled Sunrise residents and business owners with plans to run restored diesel train from the resort along the disused public railway tracks into Byron Bay.
Part of Mr Pugh submission reads, ‘This DA is an outrageous proposal as it is contrary to both the 1988 and 2014 local environment plans (LEPs). The pretence that this will not result in the creation of any additional lots is a gross misrepresentation; since 1987 the owners of this land have legally been required to amalgamate six lots into one, and there is a 1983 requirement for another four lots to be amalgamated into one lot.
The submission says the site would have naturally been part of the Belongil estuary, ‘which explains the acid-sulfate soils, though the artificial opening of the estuary mouth enables the site to be maintained.’
It warns that, ‘this is a precarious situation and places residents at significant risk, particularly in an era of global warming when the estuary mouth can be easily blocked by a storm surge during a flood event.
‘There is a definable risk that as sea-levels rise that during a cyclone the Belongil floodwaters will break through the dunes to the north of the site and that the centre of the site will thus become a major floodway. Future flooding will result in a major risk to guest/residents and a major impost on the shire’s limited emergency response capabilities, particularly given that other areas of town will come under threat at the same time.’
Mr Pugh’s submission added that the groundwater was seriously contaminated with heavy metals, which could be a danger to users, especially during a flood event.
‘Groundwaters on the site have been found to exceed the national safety crieria for contamination with arsenic by up to 6 times, lead by up to 4 times, copper up to 19 times, and aluminium by up to 161 times,’ he said.
But resort manager Jeremy Holmes told The Echo that, ‘Byron Shire Council requires that the accommodation villas be on a single lot.’
‘So we are undertaking a boundary adjustment to “clean up” the land titles over the site, so that all of the accommodation villas are on a single lot rather than scattered across numerous different lots,’ he said.
‘We agree with 99 per cent of the information set out in the letter by Dailan Pugh. We agree, for example, that previous owners were tardy in terms of putting the accommodation into a single parcel. We don’t have any issues with that requirement of Council and will implement it. That said, we reject the idea that it should be somehow our fault that previous owners have not complied with Council requirements.
‘Our application is for a boundary adjustment – no additional lots are proposed. This application is consistent with all of the principles of good town planning practice that have been adopted by both council and the Department of Planning and Environment for decades in the northern rivers region.
‘The only substantial disagreement we have with Dailan Pugh’s submission is the suggestion that our boundary adjustment will somehow create “residential lots”. This is untrue, both in terms of the town planning controls which apply to the land, which are strictly for tourism purposes, and also in terms of our intentions and vision for this site,’ Mr Holmes said.