Patricia Warren, Brunswick Heads
Any developer, be it a private person or otherwise, knows they can only develop within the boundaries of their property. In the case of the caravan parks in Brunswick Heads, the location of those boundaries has been controversial since 1988!
Under the Local Government Act’s s68, Byron Shire Council has the legislative power to determine what is called the ‘operational boundaries’ within which the caravan parks are developed and operated. Plans of Management (PoM) put out by Crown Lands do not.
Council used its s68 power in August 2012–May 2013 to set the boundaries for the pending PoM. The guts of Council’s resolutions was to keep prime foreshore parklands outside the operational boundaries of the caravan parks. These resolutions were ignored in the PoM that went out on exhibition and was subsequently approved in 2014. In December 2015, Council again reaffirmed its previous decisions on the boundaries.
In confidential meetings with NSW Crown Holiday Parks Trust and a subsequent report to Council on August 25, 2016, councillors approved the proposed amendments to the controversial PoM. By default, they have given public open space and recreational foreshore land to be included in the caravan parks’ operational boundaries. This effectively undoes decades of community work to keep these prime lands outside those boundaries.
Paralleling that decision, and of which all parties would have been well aware, are moves by the state government to strip councils of their s68 power to determine boundaries and to sell/lease selected Crown land to the private sector.
Councillors need to explain why they didn’t stand by their decisions on the location of the boundaries of the caravan parks and allow NSWCHP to use the controversial land under conditions, eg camping at Christmas and again at Easter. The community would have been accepting of that. Instead, they opted to include the controversial lands within the operational boundaries of the caravan parks and set conditions during the licensing period on how they may be used.
There is no sense of permanency in this. These conditions could readily be changed in the next licensing period. In the meantime, it is highly probable Council will have lost its s68 power to set the boundaries.