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Byron Shire
May 14, 2021

West Byron claim ‘makes mockery of affordability’

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The West Byron land rezoned by the state government last year is set to become Byron Bay's newest suburb with 500 new homes planned. Image NSW Planning
The West Byron land rezoned by the state government last year is set to become Byron Bay’s newest suburb with 500 new homes planned. Image NSW Planning

Luis Feliu

A boast to national media by the Sydney property multi-millionaire behind the controversial West Byron housing project that he plans to build 500 homes there for prices starting from $850,000 makes a mockery of the state government’s claim it would enable more affordable housing.

That’s the view of campaigners who seized on the weekend report in the Murdoch press trumpeting that Byron Bay is being ‘opened up to the masses’ with several major developments ‘set to take off’, including West Byron, the development by Tower Holdings.

The Weekend Australian reported that the company’s boss, Terry Agnew, revealed he was ‘planning to develop about 500 houses on 600-square-metre lots to be priced from $850,000 on the 70-hectare site on Ewingsdale Road he bought for $7.7 million at a mortgagee-in-possession sale just over a year ago.

And Mr Agnew’s Tower Holdings, according to the report said, has named the new suburb near the CBD ‘The Harvest Estate’, and appointed planners and architects to lodge a development application for the project approved last year by then planning minister Pru Goward.

terry-agnewMr Agnew (pictured right) told the newspaper that he and his partners were hoping to launch the estate later this year or early next year.

Byron Residents Group (BRG) say the report highlighted long-held concerns by campaigners against the rezoning of the site which the government claimed was ‘apparently of regional significance to “enable greater housing diversity and affordability”’.

BRG president Cate Coorey said that was Ms Goward’s claim in her report accompanying her decision, by press release, to approve the rezoning.

Ms Coorey also told Echonetdaily the name chosen by Mr Agnew’s company for the estate (The Harvest Estate) was ‘ironical’ given he and his partners would ‘reap’ a great investment from the rezoning.

The report in The Australian was headed ‘All roads lead to Byron Bay with new house and land packages’ and described the town as an ‘idyllic playground of the rich’ with ‘several major developments set to take off’.

The report also spruiked the new development currently marketed in real-estate advertising around Australia, the 33-lot ‘Seacliffs’ estate in the hills behind Suffolk Park south of Byron Bay, owned by billionaire John van Lieshout, who sold the Super A-Mart retail chain several years ago and is ranked by Forbes as Australia’s 27th richest man.

Mr Lieshout’s brother Peter van Lieshout is a Tweed developer, whose wife Joan was a former Tweed mayor and ex Liberal Party member.

The article in The Australian by Lisa Allen, opined that both Mr Agnew and Mr van Lieshout’s developments were allowed ‘after a virtual lockout by the Greens dominated local council for many years’.

Mr Agnew recently added to his Byron Bay property portfolio, buying the  disused former Inghams chicken factory site further along Ewingsdale Road.

The 40-acre land and factory is believed to have been sold for around $3 million.

(see previous Echonetdaily story at https://www.echo.net.au/2015/02/west-byron-developer-buys-nearby-chook-factory/)


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  1. Harvest for sure. 7.7million plus development costs to give shareholders 425 mill minus development costs….

  2. The Echo wrote: “A local community group has launched a legal challenge in the NSW Land and Environment Court to the approval of Chinese mining company Shenhua’s open cut coal mine on the Liverpool Plains in north-western NSW, one of Australia’s most productive farming areas.
    The Upper Mooki Landcare group, represented by EDO NSW, argues the NSW government approval failed to properly consider whether the mine was likely to significantly affect koalas, a threatened species, as required under the law. If the mine goes ahead it will clear 847 hectares of koala habitat.
    EDO NSW principal solicitor Sue Higginson said the group will argue that the NSW Planning Assessment Commission (PAC), which approved the mine on behalf of the minister for planning, failed to assess whether the mine would place a viable local population of Koalas at risk of extinction, as required by NSW planning laws. Koalas are currently listed as vulnerable to extinction in NSW under state and federal law after numbers dropped a third over the past 20 years. This means they are facing a high risk of extinction in NSW in the medium-term future.
    Just change “coal mine on the Liverpool Plains” for “megadevelopment in Byron Bay”. Why doesn’t anyone take this environmental disaster to higher levels of the Administration and make it a national issue before it is too late and the cost of compensations rise to an unbearable level? Where is the national press? Where are the international environmental agencies? We are dealing, not just with the destruction of Bayron Bay as we know it today, but with the survival of a threatened species and the poisoning of a Maritime Reserve; isn’t it relevant enough?

    • Unfortunately BRG’s legal advice over West Byron was that the Minister’s powers to make a SEPP to rezone the site was virtually unfettered and could not be challenged on its merits, only on whether there was a significant proceedural flaw. We found one related to threatened species though three barristers advised us it wasn’t enough to challenge the Minister’s approval.

      The BRG have tried very hard to get attention from the Sydney and national media, with limited success. If anyone (aside from Terry Agnew) has contacts and can get needed exposure of the issues, it would be great.


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