Byron Shire councillor Sol Ibrahim influenced a major rural planning document after conferring with ‘several local planners’, yet has declined to name them.
The draft Rural Land Use Strategy public submissions close May 20. The strategy has been mired in controversy after Cr Ibrahim sprung large changes upon councillors two days prior to their voting for it to go before the public.
It was clear that not all councillors understood or had read the changes.
Cr Ibrahim assured the council chamber at the time that he had collaborated only with Council’s planning director, Shannon Burt. He also admonished those councillors for not having read his last-minute email.
Yet mayor Simon Richardson told BayFM last week that ‘a certain councillor’ had conferred with not only staff, but a town planner, over his last-minute changes.
When asked, Cr Ibrahim told The Echo over the course of its formulation, the number of planners he consulted was ‘from memory four,’ including ‘extensive discussions with the previous director of planning before his retirement’.
He said, ‘Over the past few years, planners have also commented in a number of forums on the existing plan’s weaknesses and recommendations for a new one. The director judged that most of the amendments were minor, and did not object to any of them from memory. The amendments are rational.’
Throughout, the mayor has remained optimistic and previously told The Echo he was looking forward to seeing public feedback. This is despite voting against it going before the public, and then putting his name to its press release. Progress associations, residents’ groups and former mayor Jan Barham have been highly critical, saying adopting the strategy will lead to open season on development. For more info visit www.byron.nsw.gov.au/rural-land-use-strategy.