Byron Shire Council has refused a proposed mixed commercial, medical and residential development adjacent to the new Byron Central Hospital, which the proponents had attempted to justify by saying it was aimed at seniors.
To be approved, the proposal would have required council to rezone two significant parcels of rural land sandwiching the hospital site in an area that had never been envisaged for residential development.
The Sydney-based Belbeck consortium had recently made significant amendments to the plan, including moving the shopping and medical precinct further along Ewingsdale Road and increasing the intensity of housing.
Approval would also have required the construction of a roundabout, which council costed at $2.5 million, and which the proponents seemed reluctant to pay for.
The rejection was confirmed by the deciding vote of Cr Sol Ibrahim, who generally votes with the pro-development faction.
Local real estate agent and Greens Party defector Rose Wanchap voted with National Party aligned councillors Diane Woods, Chris Cubus and Alan Hunter to support the proposal.
As expected, Greens mayor Simon Richardson and member Duncan Day, Labor’s Paul Spooner and Our Sustainable Future’s Basil Cameron voted to defeat the proposal.
Last week, ahead of the head of the decision, the proponents appealed to state planning department to take it out of the council’s hands.
But mayor Simon Richardson doubts that will happen.
‘I think we’ve got an absolutely strong planning case for doing what we did,’ he told ABC radio this morning.
‘The proposal changed significantly, it intensified significantly. It was not under any strategic planning guideline or framework to begin with and I think we have every right to say no to it.’
Cr Richardson added the new proposal featured ‘a lot more density, a lot more accommodation for people other than seniors and aged, a retail component on Ewingsdale Road and just really clumsy planning.’
The Byron Residents’ Group said it was ‘pleased to see that a very bad proposal has been shown up for what it was’.
‘This was never about seniors’ housing; it was about rezoning and reselling and creating a commercial precinct in Ewingsdale,’ spokesperson Cate Coorey told Echonetdaily.
‘It was brought on by people who want to change our local planning laws so they can sell off the land — a dangerous precedent to set. If the Belbecks had intended to provide seniors’ housing they would have applied under the State Environment Planning Policy (Seniors Housing). There are federal, state and local strategies for ageing; this proposal did not meet any of them.’