The Ocean Shores Community Association (OSCA) has successfully sought a court injunction preventing the sale of the controversial Roundhouse sites by Byron Shire Council.
The sites were sold last month in an unorthodox first-come, first-served sale, which critics said meant council would receive poor value for the land.
OSCA, which has been fighting the sale for more than a decade, recently released the above video to explain its case.
It is the second injunction taken out against the council in as many months, as members of the local community react against a spate of controversial decisions taken by the now right-wing dominated council following the defection of former Greens member, real estate agent Rose Wanchap.
At a hearing of the Land and Environment Court last Friday (October 9) the court granted an order against the council, restraining it from selling, exchanging, or otherwise disposing of any part of Lot 530 DP 238451 (the Roundhouse).
The matter will return to court within 14 days for the judge to hear the council’s appeal against the order.
OSCA executive member John Youdan said that the law was ‘very clear: community land cannot be sold’.
‘The council itself zoned this land community. The people of Ocean Shores have consistently resisted the attempts by Byron Council to sell the Roundhouse land,’ Mr Youdan said.
‘During the recent Gateway Determination process the community consultation consistently objecting to the sale of the Roundhouse land was ignored. The community has a sense it was betrayed by the council,’ he added.
‘Only the court can give legal certainty. OSCA is asking for a fair go for the community who values the Roundhouse as the heart of the town of Ocean Shores. The final verdict should be decided by the court with both parties having an equal chance to present their case,’ Mr Youdan said.
Council disputes ‘community trust’
Byron Shire Council’s legal services coordinator, Ralph James, said it was ‘vigorously defending the matter’ and expected the court would hand down its decision on the interim injunction, late this afternoon (Tuesday).
‘The allegation by the group that the land was zoned community use and classified as ‘community land’ and therefore could not be sold, was incorrect.
‘The land was zoned residential use back in 1996 and reclassified as ‘operational land’ in March 2002.
‘Council also disputes the allegation that a ‘community trust’ was setup over the land and to ensure this was the case, put the land through yet another reclassification process which saw the land, for the second time, classified operational,’ Mr James said.
Council’s GM Ken Gainger said this was ‘yet another legal challenge costing ratepayers significant money that could be better spent on much needed infrastructure.’
‘It’s a sad fact that council has had decades of legal fees and costs over this site, that run into the millions. After a lengthy legal challenge, it was forced to acquire the land from the property owners back in 1991,’ Mr Gainger said.
‘It’s time to stop the bleeding and put the funds back into much needed community infrastructure such as roads, sports fields and amenities and council is working hard to achieve this outcome.
‘It’s time to get on with the work of rebuilding Byron Shire. Not defending irresponsible and baseless legal challenges,’ Mr Gainger said.