Chris Dobney & staff reporters
Some 50 people attended a snap action on Sunday called by Grays Lane resident Richard Ambrose to highlight what he called ‘appalling planning by the outgoing majority councillors’ and to warn residents what to expect if a conservative majority is re-elected.
Byron Shire Council at its last meeting rejected a request to rezone approximately 21 hectares of land at Buckleys Road, Tyagarah (adjoining Grays Lane) to convert a rural hill overlooking the entrance to Byron Bay into 100 residential lots, which Mr Ambrose described as ‘a millionaires row’.
But in an unprecedented move, Cr Rose Wanchap included the proposal at the last minute in the council’s Rural Land Use Strategy document, on a list of 12 properties that Mr Ambrose described as ‘hand picked… arbitrarily with no reason as to why these have been selected over others and actually added them … for special consideration.’
Both staff and state government departments had indicated major concerns with the plan. Flooding and traffic were among the issues, as well as the development not being within five kms of a school or retail centre.
‘When council had the opportunity to reject this proposal, they didn’t take that, instead they made it worse by adding it to our Byron Rural Land Use Strategy,’ Mr Ambrose said.
‘That’s based on the pressure of the developer, not on any strategic use,’ he added.
‘All we have now is the hope that the state rejects it, and encourage people write letters to state planning to oppose it.
‘We need to make sure that people don’t vote for Rose Wanchap, don’t vote for Alan Hunter and they make sure that in the next council we don’t have another conservative bloc putting up crazy harebrained schemes based on developers telling us how our shire should be.’
Next Gold Coast?
But Cr Wanchap and Hunter defended their desire for the area to become urbanised; during the Mullumbimby meet the candidates meeting last week Cr Wanchap said there was a tendency for residents and councillors to say ‘no’ to everything, and claimed that residents have been ‘wanting the road fixed for years’.
Yet the residents against the proposal say they have resisted road improvements as that would exacerbate development.
Mr Ambrose questioned Cr Wanchap’s reasoning for the road.
‘If we are relying on developers to fix our roads for us by giving them development approvals that is pretty sad and we will end up with suburbs from here to the Gold Coast.’
At the meet the candidates meeting, the mayor, crs Cameron and Spooner split hairs over whether the proposal was diabolical, disastrous or the worst planning proposal council had been presented with in recent years.