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Byron Shire
June 7, 2023

Soccer club lobby to keep its Byron home

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soccer-shutterstock_11293831Emily Pierce

Will adult sporting activities be taken away from Byron’s CBD?

A petition to save Byron Bay Football Club’s home of more than 50 years kicked off last week, despite a lengthy response from mayor Simon Richardson trying to allay concerns that they may have to move out of town.

It came in response to the town’s masterplan, which suggested adult sporting clubs on the Byron Recreation Ground would be better located at Cavanbah Centre on Ewingsdale Road.

Public submissions have recently closed.

Within the long-term masterplan’s suggestion, the much-loved and -used fields would be transformed into a family-friendly parkland with bicycle tracks.

In the short term, the Byron Recreation Ground is earmarked to become a secondary local sporting, recreational and community resource, which is used for a range of compatible activities for all ages, but with a focus on children and youth.

To achieve this, the masterplan suggests that ‘facilities should be upgraded.’

Adult competitive sports should be relocated to the Cavanbah Sports Centre, the plan says, ‘with the Recreation Ground retaining its role as a children’s/youth sporting venue.’

But mayor Simon Richardson told the club in a 944-word email, ‘Perhaps the wording within the Open Space Strategy section has caused concern.’

The mayor said, ‘no team will be forced [move], and no moves will be made to do this without the support of the clubs themselves.

‘The intent [of the masterplan] is to ensure our kids have spaces to play and if conflicts arise over using the rec grounds, the adults should come second.’

No forced removal

He added there would be no ‘forced removal’.

But Byron Bay Football Club say they are still strongly opposed to the move, claiming that there is nothing wrong with the current location and they have invested time and money into developing the existing facilities. They include field maintenance, upgrades and clubhouse artwork. Additionally, they say the Cavanbah Fields are unsuitable during wet weather, owing to ongoing drainage issues. Facilities such as grandstands, shade cloths and a dedicated canteen would also be needed.

Vague plans

BBFC representative Greg Meek told The Echo, ‘We attended a couple of workshop/presentations about the masterplan.

‘References to the Rec Grounds were very vague.’

‘Questions were raised by attendees, and the responses were again vague and dismissive.’

‘Not until the release of the draft plan were the references to “transitioning the Recreation Grounds to a secondary sporting facility” and moving organised senior competition to the Cavanbah Centre clearly (almost) articulated.

‘The actual actions associated with these recommendations are still unclear in the draft masterplan.’

* Emily Pierce is undertaking work experience


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