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Byron Shire
April 16, 2021

Proposed Tweed commune’s Illegal works under fire

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A structure allegedly built as a ‘farm shed’. Photo Tweed Shire Council
A structure allegedly built as a ‘farm shed’. Photo Tweed Shire Council

Luis Feliu

Complaints over large-scale illegal building and land clearing for a proposed commune-style village at Mt Burrell in the Tweed Valley has prompted Tweed Shire Council planners to recommend legal action to stop any further work and to try to punish the owners.

Council officers who inspected the property at 3222 Kyogle Road last month say major and unauthorised building, earthworks and vegetation removal had been undertaken since they inspected the property a number of times last year following complaints from adjoining neighbours.

Owners told council staff during their inspections last year that the works undertaken till then were in preparation for a proposed 36-share multiple-occupancy development, and that they were going to engage a planning consultant to prepare a development application (DA).

But further complaints about increased building activity on the 248-hectare property led council to once again inspect the property in February where they saw major ‘serious’ and large-scale unauthorised works had been carried out.

In a report to be presented to next Thursday’s (7 April) council meeting, staff say there was an ‘urgent imperative’ for council to establish a ‘clear legal path’ to proceed in their dealings with the owners, Wollumbin Horizons Pty Ltd.

Planning chief Vince Connell says the proposed development was being promoted through social media sites as the ‘Bhula Bhula Intentional Community’.

Council staff describe this as excessive roadworks for a road upgrade on the property for a proposed multiple-occupancy.
Council staff describe this as excessive roadworks for a road upgrade on the property for a proposed multiple-occupancy.

The community’s Facebook site advertises and promotes the project as a ‘new village’.

Mr Connell said that ‘in respect of the allegations of unauthorised use, the owners initially advised that there were only minor, site preparation works and activities occurring’.

‘From three initial site inspections in late 2015, council officers could find no evidence of works or activities that required council approval,’ he said.

‘Further complaints from adjoining owners were received in late 2015 and early 2016 with allegations of increased activity and movement in and out of the subject site.

A yurt on the site, which Tweed Shire Council says is unapproved. Photo Tweed Shire Council
A yurt on the site, which the group says is the ‘spiritual centre’ of the commune and which Tweed Shire Council says is unapproved. Photo Tweed Shire Council

‘On the basis of these concerns, the council officers conducted a comprehensive site inspection on 22 February 2016 in the presence of the owners’ representatives, and noted that there had been substantial, apparent unauthorised, building and earthworks, vegetation removal and land use activity undertaken since the last site inspection.’

Mr Connell said that on 23 February 2016, council wrote to the owners and instructed them ‘to cease all unauthorised works and land use, and to show cause to explain and justify this activity by 15 March 2016’.

One 23 March the owners wrote to council seeking a 90-day extension of time to provide a response to the allegations, but council wrote back saying it would only grant a 60-day extension.

‘Taking into account the current uncertainty regarding the collective view and support of all unit owners of Wollumbin Horizons Pty Ltd and their solicitor, as well as the seriousness and scale of unauthorised works carried out to date, it is considered that there is an urgent imperative to establish a clear legal path for council to proceed in their dealings with the owners,’ Mr Connell said.

‘It is therefore recommended that council proceed to engage solicitors to ensure that any unauthorised activities are ceased, that such works are removed, and to provide guidance on any punitive actions that need to be taken against the perpetrators of the unauthorised works.’

Mr Connell also recommended removal of ‘unauthorised structures and vehicles including, but not limited to, sheds, caravans, tents and shipping containers; and to install sediment and erosion control measures’.

He also urged for legal advice to be sought over ‘options for punitive action against the owners’ for the unauthorised works.

In his report Mr Connell said that after a third site inspection last November, the owners’ representative ‘stated that after three site inspections, it was now “verging on harassment” as no works, apart from road maintenance, fencing and weed control, had been undertaken on the property’.

 


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9 COMMENTS

  1. Dear Editor,
    There is obviously more to this story than meets the eye and I challenge you , the Echo, to show your true independence and intelligence in reporting it. My question is:
    Has this Community made a treaty agreement with the true owners and custodians of this land and are they standing with the Original Sovereign Tribal Federation (O.S.T.F.) challenging the councils right to tell them what they may or may not do on it ?
    This is what appears to me to be the case from following the background leads given in your article. The facebookpage led me to “Mark McMurtrie” and the O.S.T.F. and Marks suggestion that for those people who wanted to support the original peoples stand against the invasion of their country (and their strong insistence fully legally backed on the truth of the situation in “Australia” that the land is legally owned by the original people), then the best thing that they could do would be to make an agreement with the true owners.

    If this is what is happening here then these people are courageous trail blazers in a very important legal challenge in this country and THIS is the story of interest.

    It would be great if the Echo would dig a little deeper and give us the real issues , and not lead us to believe (on surface reading) that this is a bunch of vandals acting badly and being pulled back into line by their neighbours and the council.
    From Little Things Big Things Grow and the issue of sovereignty in this country is for sure going to grow bigger and come to much more mainstream attention with the help of courageous journalism the light of truth may begin to shine through all the “bullshit” we are served on a daily basis.
    Any comments
    Yours sincerely MatiJo Beams

  2. Tweed Council never says NO to developers yet this feel good intentional community wants to clear land, construct 35 dwellings, roads and community buildings without any environmental assessment, development plans or Council approval. Seems they’re intentionally generating lots of community angst and bad karma along the way…..

    • The Tweed started going down when the train stopped.
      But there is so much bloody-mindedness in Tweed no one will admit to that.
      The Tweed is one of the most growth-intensified places in NSW but the growth does not translate into any wealth or profit. There is poverty everywhere. Growth is not the answer.
      Tourism is the answer. But we need the train for tourism to get up off the floor.

  3. Unbelievable! This sort of illegal development needs to be severely punished. Claiming some sort of treaty with indigenous people is a laughable red herring. The fact is these idiots are going in there and clearing land without knowing what they’re doing. Are there threatened species there? where is all their sewage going? Who knows?? that is what planning approvals are for.
    It’s not the 1970s anymore, this sort of thing has to stop. The actions of these so-called alternative people are reminiscent of LEDA at Kings Forest and Cobaki, they ought to be ashamed of themselves they act just like the corporations they are trying to escape from. It is ironic to the pointy of incredulity.

  4. I live at Mount Burrell and I can tell you there is more to this story aside from the poor environmental practices and the construction of illegal dwellings . The leaders of this group are part of a movement called Truthology and are also involved in what they call “Freedom summits”. They target individuals who are struggling financially, or just with life in general and promise them the world. Not a single shareholder of this property in question received a share holders certificate or proof of purchase leaving these people with no hope of getting their money back. It was been sold as a new beginning and unfortunately people have been burned along the way. Half are now choosing to leave and the rest want to stay and are going to claim sovereignty. From the beginning the leaders of this group brought disrespect and a Bad Vibe to our peaceful community. This is not the first time they have tried this and unfortunately it won’t be the last. Now they have formed a seperate company called rainmaker Eco investments and are looking at purchasing the Mount Burrell Commercial precinct with people’s superannuation and other investment.This is a money making scheme for the select few disguised as a new beginning for some poor ignorant individuals to throw their money into… Buyer Beware!!!!!

    • Hey Jack… You have summed up this scam/cult or whatever perfectly. Aside from the financial aspect there are regulations that serve a purpose. Building codes to ensure that dwellings are constructed with the correct safety standards etc. Waste treatment to overcome possibilities of disease etc. Environmental protection to protect the land and the wildlife. The perpetrators of this scheme have displayed absolute arrogance towards the existing community, the land and the Council. They have turned a fine traditional rural property into a shanty town

  5. Bhula Bhula do not have any treaty with any tribe, are peddling the scam of aboriginal sovereignty and are easily shown to be doing so with a few facts. Firstly, the claimed name Bhula Bhula does not mean “living together in harmony” as claimed, Bhula means 2 and Bhula Bhula is the number 4 in aboriginal language. (Sharpe dictionaries, Geytenbeek dictionary, Crowley dictionary etc.). Secondly, their claimed bogus Wollumbin company shows they have no idea that Wollumbin was stolen as the heritage and name of my families peak and applied as a fake aboriginal name to Mt Warning. The American freemen movement that infested the aboriginal cause is lurking behind Bhula Bhula, beware.

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