Byron Residents’ Group has described Byron Shire Council’s community consultation for the West Byron Development Control Plan a ‘token gesture’. The group is calling for council to ‘engage the community in a meaningful process so they can have a real say in the design of the biggest single development in Byron’s history’.
‘It was pressure from the community that brought the preparation of the DCP back to council after the Department of Planning tried to impose their truly appalling version on us,’ said Cate Coorey of BRG.
‘The department, without irony, told us that giving the DCP to council was ‘‘returning planning powers back to the community’’ – notwithstanding that they had already rezoned it against community wishes.
Only one workshop
‘The pro-West Byron councillors said to us repeatedly that the DCP would come back to council and then the community would be able to have their say – that was far from the truth. Council resolved to adopt a DCP process that allowed for only one community “workshop”.
‘Two BRG members attended. Of the nine “community members” who attended, two were from interests associated with the developers, four were architects or associated with building, which left only three members of the group who had no vested interest.
‘While the input of local professionals is valuable, the forum was really not a true community consultation.
‘Given the massive impact West Byron will have, increasing the size of our town by at least 30 per cent, we expected something more like the Byron Bay Masterplan consultations with the West Byron DCP process.
‘Once council has finalised their draft and put it on exhibition it is too late to get any substantial changes. If the community is to have a meaningful say it must be now.’
But Byron Shire Council said it would not the last opportunity for residents to have input into the plan.
Council’s director of sustainable environment and economy, Shannon Burt, said the draft West Byron DCP will be reported to Council in September for endorsement to go out on public exhibition.
She said a workshop was held in July with a range of community representatives, local planning, engineering and architectural experts, councillors and staff to discuss DCP issues for West Byron.
‘Feedback from this workshop has been utilised in the drafting of the West Byron DCP.
‘When placed on public exhibition, additional feedback will also be sourced from the community,’ Ms Burt said.