Brunswick Heads residents have lobbied the new state lands and local-government ministers over the long-running battle to stop encroachment of public foreshore land under planned upgrades of the town’s three crown reserve caravan parks.
Concept plans for the multi-million-dollar revamp of the three parks (The Terrace, Ferry Reserve and Massey Greene) have recently been exhibited by the NSW Crown Holiday Parks Trust (NSWCHPT) which runs them, but ongoing boundary issues remain unresolved.
The Foreshore Protection Group (FPG), made up of locals keeping a running watch on the management of Bruns popular public parks, has written to new lands minister Paul Toole and local government minister Gabrielle Upton in their quest for transparency over the proposed boundary options.
FPG convenor Michele Grant said the group was hoping to get some relevant information to new councillors on the boundary issue ‘so we can re-open the conversation and get some proper maps so we can get the best outcome possible’.
‘I don’t think anyone of the new councillors are up to speed on the issue and neither council staff nor NSWCHPT or mayor Simon Richardson are providing any info on the various options to help them sort it out’.
Ms Grant says the trust presented ‘concept designs’ during recent community consultation and council negotiations ‘that focus on park layout, rather than provide information on boundary options’.
‘We think the boundary issue and status of foreshore walkway needs to be clearly established before we’re swamped with more design concepts,’ she said.
In the letter to the ministers, which included a petition with more than 2,000 signatures, she said the group supported council’s determined boundaries, which proposed ‘soft camping’ (tents) on the foreshore.
‘There is widespread community support for Byron Shire Council’s (BSC) operational boundaries and restricting the use of vulnerable riverfront land.
‘We ask the Ministers to endorse council’s proposed boundaries and license conditions before any new Plans of Management (POM) or additional concept drawings are submitted for public exhibition.
‘We also have a new council, not yet up to speed on this issue and request a further meeting with key stakeholders and the provision of properly surveyed maps (as detailed below) so we can resolve these outstanding issues.’
The letter reads:
It is extraordinary that Crown Lands and Byron Shire Council have managed to conduct negotiations over the operational boundaries of Ferry Reserve, Terrace Park and Massy Greene Crown Reserve Caravan Parks in Brunswick Heads for almost 20 years without ever producing properly surveyed and labelled maps.
The use of “concept drawings” as planning documents is totally unacceptable. Concept drawings provided by NSWCHPT during recent community consultation and Council negotiations (July 2016-Jan 2017) are hopelessly inadequate for any serious discussion about proposed boundary adjustments or compliance issues.
The drawings focus on design layout options over which Council has no jurisdiction, and fail to provide any relevant information or usable scale to make an informed decision about park boundaries, setbacks or operating conditions.
Establishing the location of operational boundaries, new additional lands, the public walkway and basic land measurements is clearly the first necessary step before any debate about the proposed internal layout of the parks can be considered.
We insist NSWCHPT and/or Byron Council provide Councillors and the community with detailed surveyed maps that include:
a) The location of the current legal boundaries and disputed “encroached lands” detailed in BSC POM 1988
b) The location of BSC and Community preferred boundaries endorsed August 2012-Aug 2016.
c) Location of Crown Lands preferred boundaries and new acquired lands
d) Physical dimensions of operational area, setbacks, internal roads, site allowances – to scale – as many proposed and existing sites fail to comply in reality.
e) Location of foreshore boundary, buffer zones/public walkway along the riverbank with land width markers and to scale on planning drawings
f) Location of significant/protected vegetation or sites and land constraints
g) Relocation plan for non-compliant permanent sites within foreshore buffer zone/setback in Terrace Park
h) Access to public boat ramps, and shared car and trailer parking in Ferry & Massy Greene.
Under the Local Government Act, Byron Council has the authority to determine operational boundaries and conditions for the Holiday Parks through S68 license agreements.
All three parks are currently operating without license as North Coast Holiday Parks (NCHP) has wilfully failed to re-submit their 2015 license applications to include new additional lands with Council’s determined boundaries. (BSC resolutions May & Sept 2015)
Ignoring Council resolutions is surely not acceptable behaviour for NCHP/NSWCHPT so we ask the Ministers to explain why NCHP/NSWCHPT have not complied with Council’s request to re-submit amended license applications. Licensing issues have yet to be addressed in current negotiations with NSWCHPT (July 2016-Jan 2017).
The Trust has no authority to determine park boundaries and the decision to include Riverside Crescent as a new addition to Ferry Park, Lot 7005 within Massey Greene and the vulnerable Southern section of Terrace Park within the operational boundaries in “concept drawings” for Public exhibition remains highly contested.
NSWCHPT CEO, Steve Edmonds relies on “in principle” support, given by a retiring Council two weeks out from an election during “caretaker” phase, for proposed layouts and boundary adjustments included in specific concept drawings (Aug 2016). Mr. Edmonds arbitrarily shifted the park boundaries in the latest ‘concept drawings’ presented to BSC on 17 January, making any claim to “in principle” support dubious.
The new Council has yet to ratify operational boundaries or licence agreements for the Holiday parks and have not endorsed or given “in principle” support to any concept drawings. Instead of adopting Council’s consistently reaffirmed operational boundaries, NSWCHPT has again muddied the waters, by seeking amendments via “in principle” support for unspecified boundaries in concept drawings.
Byron Council’s designated operational boundaries have not been included in any concept drawings or POMs to date (BSC Aug 2012-July 2016).
NSWCHPT and Council have yet to offer any assurance the riverside walkway remains a legally designated public access pathway – outside the operational area of the holiday parks. Concept drawings have failed to identify where the river-front boundary of the holiday parks is actually located. Procrastination and obfuscation over the relocation of non-compliant riverfront sites in Terrace Park continues.
It is totally inappropriate for the Trust to exhibit and promote concept plans when there remains no clear transparent agreement between key stakeholders over the location of park boundaries and the status of the foreshore walkway remains undetermined.
It is imperative new Councillors have the opportunity to review and consider boundary options and other contentious issues in an open and transparent manner. Significant boundary, access and compliance issues remain unresolved and key issues are either misrepresented or remain unacknowledged in current concept plans.
We ask the Ministers to end this long running dispute and endorse BSC’s operational boundaries as detailed in BSC 2012 License agreements and subsequent resolutions in May & September 2015, which have widespread community support. (See attached comments re: 2014 POM)
We also request for a further meeting with key stakeholders (Council, Trust and community representatives) and the provision of properly surveyed and labelled maps with all relevant details to help resolve outstanding issues before more expensive glossy “concept plans” are imposed on our community.
Michele Grant, convenor, Foreshore Protection Group