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.
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/)