Plans to run a diesel train from the Elements of Byron resort in Belongil into Byron’s CBD appears to have been delayed, owing to a request by the applicant Byron Bay Railroad Company (BBRC) to delete a DA condition that requires the landowner (TfNSW) to place a Coastal Erosion restriction on the title of the land.
Byron Bay Railroad Company Ltd (BBRC) is a not-for-profit subsidiary of Elements of Byron, a resort reputedly worth $100m and owned by QLD-based coal miner Brian Flannery. BBRC holds a non-exclusive license from TfNSW to use the rail corridor and rail infrastructure and a Development Approval (DA) was granted on September 17, 2015 from Byron Shire Council for the construction of the two platforms and the train storage shed.
Specifically, Condition 15 of the approved DA requires an imposition of a section 88E instrument to be placed on the title of the land in relation to coastal erosion.
Echonetdaily understands that S88E is an instrument within the Conveyancing Act 1919 which places restriction on title and that ‘condition 15’ must be complied with prior to issuing a construction certificate and commencing any works.
Such a decision is imposed by council, and condition 15 states consent of the development must cease, be removed and revegetated, ‘if at any time the coastal erosion escarpment comes within 50 meters of any building associated with this development.
The BBRC has lodged a S96 application to delete this condition and it is currently on public exhibition and submissions close September 14.
Concerned neighbours contacted Echonetdaily, saying that if the S96 request was approved, it would be unfair on everyone else who is compliant with the LEP.
Statement by residents
A statement was provided that has ‘the full support of the Sunrise Residents group, the Belongil Residents and Business group’.
It reads, ‘It is a requirement for any development in Byron Bay that is within the costal erosion zone to place a restriction on their title (s 88E). This would be unfair that every property in the erosion zone must have this 88E, except for the applicant BBRC. Will the owners of the land, TfNSW, allow such a restriction to be placed on the railway land title?’
‘It is unlikely that a state Government body will allow such a restriction to unnecessarily be placed on public infrastructure.
‘This would also bring into question ambitions currently being gazetted by the mayor Simon Richardson who is seeking a return to office. His claims of constructing infrastructure along the rail corridor would appear unrealistic given that such ambitions need to be applied for by the owner of the Land (TfNSW) who must accept current legislation governing coastal erosion.
‘It is surprising that the mayor of a town with significant costal erosion issues and policies has overlooked such a significant requirement before releasing such a major policy platform.
‘It is particularly interesting that Cr Richardson voted in favour of the proposal to run a 70 year old diesel Train to the Elements resort in September 2015 which seems to contradict his new green ideas.
‘It is also interesting that Cr Richardson has ignored pleas from effected residents to have a full environmental assesment of the BBRC proposal up to this date.
Elements of Byron reply
Development director for North Byron Beach Resort, Jeremy Holmes replied, ‘The Section 96 application from Byron Bay Railroad Company relates to the Byron town centre platform only. The application seeks to delete Condition 88E because BBRC has already committed to cease the train operation if at any time the coastal erosion escarpment comes within 50 metres of any building associated with the development.
Let’s look at the facts here. The platform is over 150 metres from the coastal escarpment. Most of the First Sun Caravan park would have to be washed away before this trigger would come into effect. The state government-owned railway corridor is public infrastructure, like a bus stop or road reserve. Would the council remove a road or a bus stop if it were within 50 metres of the coast? This cannot be compared to residential or commercial property within the same zoning.’
A spokesperson from TfNSW told Echonetdaily, ‘Transport for NSW does not support restrictions on TfNSW land that would affect its rights now or in the future.’
The North Byron Beach Resort is a 200 acre property which encompasses Elements of Byron (50 acres), Bayshore Bungalows, The Sun Bistro and the land beside Elements of Byron on which the Byron Bay Writers Festival is held.