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Byron Shire
May 6, 2021

Wanchap’s multi-storey carpark sinks without trace

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Cr Wanchap's multi-storey carpark plan was thrown out by Byron Shire Council yesterday.
Cr Wanchap’s multi-storey carpark plan was thrown out by Byron Shire Council yesterday.

Chris Dobney

Byron Shire Cr Rose Wanchap admitted defeat over her solution to Byron Bay’s carparking problems even before her motion was overwhelmingly tossed out by council yesterday.

Cr Wanchap had proposed that the Byron Bay Masterplan consultants be required to consider converting the existing Lawson Street north carpark into a multi-storey affair with a reception centre on top – at a cost to council of $8 million.

She told council the new megalith at the town’s entrance would ‘gather all cars that would normally park around town in one place before they pass the “eye of the needle”: the Lawson-Jonson street roundabout.’

By Cr Wanchap’s own calculation, with the earnings from the reception centre and cars turning over multiple times a day, the carpark would take a decade to pay for itself.

In an effort to shore up her project against claims from other councillors that she was ‘putting the cart before the horse’ in wanting to build the carpark before the results of the masterplan consultations had come in, she argued that plan would ‘just go into the filing cabinet’ unless the money it earned was available to ‘pay for the nice pretty things’ the planners recommended.

What she failed to explain to her fellow councillors was how it would be anything but a drain on council resources for the ten years she had estimated it would take to pay off.

In a desperate attempt to address these issues her conservative ally Cr Di Woods asked her permission to amend the motion to consider a Public Private Partnership (PPP), whereby council would not have to find the money for the project, and that the location of the possible multi-storey carpark not be limited to the one Cr Wanchap had proposed.

But her pleas fell on deaf ears.

Mayor Simon Richardson appeared to sum up the general mood when he said, ‘the community has told us clearly they do not want one of the major buildings as they drive into town to be a carpark. We don’t want to make it easier for cars to get into town and then give them prime real estate to park in. The experts tell us it’s financially unsustainable and we should get cars out of town.

‘Every masterplan forum I attended unanimously said our priority would be to get cars out of the town, perhaps starting at Butler Street and then going further out towards Kendall Street.

‘Most people we consulted are quite open to exploring Butler Street. Doesn’t have the visual impact, has more area and achieves the idea of getting the cars out.

‘For us right now to be going against all of that and still be pushing for more parking in the CBD is just not being prepared to listen,’ Cr Richardson said.

His views were supported by Cr Paul Spooner who said that it was ‘putting the cart before the horse.’

We need to work on the [masterplan] processes we’ve agreed to and have faith in that,’ he said.

‘Ultimately we as councillors need to be genuine with the decisions we make – this is going against what we’ve already decided. If we get another proposal for a car park in another location [in the masterplan] we’ve shot ourselves in the foot.’

Apart from Cr Woods not one of her pro-development allies spoke on the subject or voted to support her.

The amended motion was defeated with only councillors Wanchap and Woods supporting it.


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  1. Cr Rose Wanchap, have you thought about a multi-storey carpark above your extra lane on Shirley St?

    What about a multi-storey carpark out at West Byron. If the lot sizes are 150m or whatever is being greedily forecast – there wont be space for cars.

    Looks like there is a small multi-story carpark being built at Wategos at the moment by the owner of West Byron?

    Do you want Byron Bay to become like the Gold Coast?

    Please take your ideas away from the Byron Shire……

  2. Thanks heavens Sol hasn’t backed her on this one. I couldn’t agree more with A Hewson – please Rose, keep ALL your ideas underwraps and deep in your real estate filing cabinet. They have no place in Byron Shire. You are completely out of sync with this community.

  3. How about we put the car park on west Byron – with the small lots they can save on construction and just go directly to having the community sleep in their cars. Plus Rose can tick the box for low-income housing. It’s a perfect solution.

  4. Mayor Simon Richardson appeared to sum up the general mood when he said, “… We don’t want to make it easier for cars to get into town …”. I fully agree, but what else but a way “to make it easier for cars to get into town” is the proposed bypass that will also ruin Butler Street?

  5. Byron Bay needs parking on the edge of town (west of the railway line) of that there is no doubt. Kendall St is too far to walk, especially with boards and beach gear. If there is anywhere else apart from Butler St Reserve that fits the bill I’m not aware of it.

    Question for Rose if she’s reading: With your multi-storey car park design, how exactly were cars supposed to exit the car park in the afternoon when all the daytrippers go home?

    Do they turn right out of the carpark onto Lawson? (Impossible)
    Do they exit up near the pool, drive along the beachfront on Bay St, turn right at Fletcher and right at Lawson? (More traffic to the beachfront, last thing we need)
    Or was it going to be a left-turn only on to Lawson and then do a U-turn at the Jonson and Lawson roundabout? (feeding more traffic into the eye-of-the-needle)

    I suspect Rose really didn’t think about this much, which is why you leave these kinds of planning decisions to the professionals.


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