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Byron Shire
February 5, 2023

Residents oppose Ewingsdale’s ‘industrial scale’ retirement development

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Part of the controversial 'seniors' housing estate proposed for Ewingsdale.
Part of the controversial ‘seniors’ housing estate proposed for Ewingsdale. The plan has yet to be approved but the proponents are looking to increase housing from 165 to 260 units.

Chris Dobney

Byron Residents Group (BRG) has again taken aim at a retirement development planned for Ewingsdale, which has requested an increase in size from 165 to 260 residences before it has even been approved.

And BRG spokesperson Cate Coorey has described the proposal as ‘a site for “managing” old people on an industrial scale’.

The planned changes, which also include 60 high-care beds and a 3,000 square-metre commercial site (the size of the Sunrise IGA complex), are currently on exhibition at Byron Shire Council despite the department of planning having yet to approve changes to the shire’s LEP that would allow it to go ahead.

Ms Coorey has described the proposal as ‘a Trojan horse that should alarm all residents of the shire.’

‘These developers, aided by councillors who have no regard for proper planning processes, intend to just ignore the zoning on this beautiful rural land at the entryway to our town,’ she said.

‘If they succeed then any future developer who fancies plonking a suburb down wherever they like can try to do the same — and if council says ‘yes’ to one developer and ‘no’ to them, what then? Will we be endlessly fighting court battles?

‘There is no planning strategy supporting this proposal, only a planning agenda driven by developers and assisted by an illegitimate Council majority that has never been representative of what the people of Byron want.’

Council staff and department of planning regional assessors initially recommended against the development and a door-to-door survey of Ewingsdale residents showed just two per cent of nearly two hundred people interviewed supported it.

The proposed sites of the Byron Central Hospital (marked on the left) and 'seniors' development (box on the right) for 166 houses, nursing home and shopping centre.
The site of the Byron Central Hospital (marked on the left) and  the proposed ‘seniors’ development (box on the right) for 265 houses, nursing home and  3 hectare shopping centre.

The development would require an amendment of Byron Shire Council’s 2014 LEP as the land was zoned rural just two years ago, and in its rejection the department said approval of the planning proposal ‘has the potential to set a precedent or expectation for the “rezoning” of other land outside of the strategic planning process.’

It added the proposal was ‘not consistent with the provisions of SEPP (Rural Lands) and the North Coast Regional Environmental Plan which required the release of rural land for urban purposes to be in accordance with an adopted growth planning strategy.’

The proposed Voluntary Planning Agreement can be found on the Byron Shire Council website. Residents have until February 12 to make submissions.

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  1. Having a quiet retirement home located near the region’s hospital makes heaps of sense, especially if it incorporates green-space as the drawing would indicate. A retirement home is really just residential.

    But slapping a huge retail/industrial complex in the middle of it is not on! We have a retail center and industrial center in Byron Bay. We don’t need another one.

  2. This is not a retirement home for frail aged – it is ‘lifestyle’ apartments for over 55s – I’m nearly there and no way do I need a hospital. A nursing home at the hospital might make sense. 55 year olds don’t need hospitals that often. Proximity to GPs in town and all that town offers is what people need and what Fed Govt aging strategies are about — aging at home with services close at hand.

    Among the many recommendations against the proposal to change the land use that were detailed by the regional office of the Dept of Planning’s original assessment was this: “Adequate strategic assessment of the future housing and employment land needs for Byron has not been completed.”
    We have an LEP that says what the zonings are. It was only adopted in 2014. We must stick to our planning regulations and not just change them for non-essential reasons.

    There is a whole new complex for aged care at RSL Lifecare at Baywood Chase. Already approved and underway. http://rsllifecare.org.au/locations/byron-bay-bayside-byron/homes-available-at-bayside-byron/

  3. At the moment the old historic farm house is badly vandalised and open to the element. Given a couple more wet seasons it will be beyond repair. Whatever development happens on this site, the farm house should be immediately stabilised and secured to prevent further deterioration and vandalism. This is an important heritage building that is at great risk of being lost altogether. Can the owners of the site please show their goodwill and do something about it now.

  4. Cate, you said it is a site for old people on an industrial scale ? And then say it’s lifestyle apartments for over55’s ? . Which one is it?

    • Hi Karen, It’s both. The developers are now proposing an increase from 165 residences to approximately 260 living units in clusters of 4 to 8, plus assisted living, plus a 60 bed intensive high care unit, plus guest accommodation, plus entertainment centre, plus retail & business sector. There will be 3 hectares of commercial space.
      The are is zoned rural – a zoning which, within current planning guidelines –, would allow approximately 25 homes. The developers’ original proposal was considered excessively dense and rejected by 98% of Ewingsdale residents and submissions to the proposal when it was on exhibition in Council were overwhelmingly opposed to it.
      I hope that answers your question. Cate Coorey


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