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January 25, 2022

Byron council won’t change holiday park boundaries

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BHPA secretary Leigh Rees addresses Council last Thursday. Photo Eve Jeffery
BHPA secretary Leigh Rees addresses Council last Thursday. Photo Eve Jeffery

Eve Jeffery

Byron Shire councillors voted last Thursday not to negotiate with the NSW Crown Lands Holiday Parks Trust (NSWCHPT) over the trust’s holiday park boundaries at Brunswick Heads.

Only Cr Alan Hunter, who did not like the idea of closing down the possibility of negotiation, voted against the motion.

Council reiterated its position that any licence approvals depended on NSWCHPT ensuring: full and wide access along all of the foreshores by meeting or exceeding legal requirements for setbacks. The trust must also commit to removal of encroachments from the foreshore open spaces; improve access to the boat ramps long enjoyed by locals; and ensure public use of lot 7005 in Massey Greene.

Protect pines

Council also moved that, owing to the recognition of the historical and community significance of the memorial cypress pines in The Terrace and the commitment to the protection of the pines, there is to be no short-term camping or permanent residency permitted in the southern end of Terrace Park.

During public access members of the Brunswick Heads Progress Association (BHPA) voiced their concerns at what they say is a trust ‘land grab’ at the Terrace Reserve, Massey Greene Park and Ferry Reserve.

‘Council has the legislative power to determine the boundaries for the operation of the caravan parks and has done so in the past’, said Leigh Rees, secretary of the BHPA. ‘The NSWCHPT has drawn up its own boundaries which encroach on public lands, reducing green areas and restricting public access to Brunswick River’s foreshore.’

‘Indifference’

Ms Rees said the lack of genuine community consultation further demonstrated the trust’s indifference to the needs of the residential community in the Shire. ‘The results of their caravan park walk-throughs, in which they “documented community feedback” were not made public.

‘At NSWCHPT’s public “community consultation” at the Ocean Shores Country Club, concerned community groups were subjected to a fast-paced, vague presentation of dubious assumptions.  NSWCHPT’s amended plans ignored sustained community feedback and, worse, claimed that the operational boundaries were agreed to by past councils.

‘These past “agreements” were in fact only interim licences for tent camping, to support the trust at peak holiday seasons.

Deep meaning

Ms Rees also said NSWCHPT’s plans include usurpation of the war memorial park near Tweed Street. ‘This land is zoned public purpose recreation, and has been used as such for the last 100 years.’

Ms Rees said that each cypress pine represents a local soldier who fell in the terrible battle at Lone Pine on the Gallipoli Peninsula in WWI. ‘This park holds deep meaning for many local families who are devastated by the callous appropriation by the trust which have allowed ongoing degradation of the park and the pine trees.’

There was some confusion over land that was once used as spill from the caravan park for basic camping that has grown into a location for larger vans and more sophisticated accommodation. When asked, the BHPA said they would prefer there was no camping at all on the extra land.

Privatisation

Ms Rees said the state government is hellbent on privatising any public asset that can turn a profit. ‘The likelihood of prime foreshore encroached lands in Bruns ending up in the hands of private developers is alarmingly real.’

‘NSWCHPT is a developer. Its primary interest is revenue-raising. Its CEO, Steve Edmonds, led the team that privatised the Newcastle Harbour.*

‘In 2014, 2,500 people signed a petition against the trust’s encroachments. Residential groups within the Shire also condemn it.

‘Thousands of residents are against the concept drawings of the Trust. Nothing about the NSWCHPT’s plans benefits our local communities.’

*Mr Edmonds has told The Echo that he did not lead the team that privatised the Newcastle Harbour and in fact ‘had nothing to do with it.’


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3 COMMENTS

  1. Regarding Councillors recent commendable decision and Councilor Hunter who apparently said he did not like the idea of closing down the possibility of negotiation and voted against the motion, where has he been? This has been going on for many years now and there has been to date no real ‘negotiation’ from the different groups managing the redevelopment of our parks.

    The public was willing and Council too was ready to ‘negotiate’ years ago but it never happened because the developers refused to do so. Nothing has changed Councilors. I’ve written the Councillors recently and sent the following to them but it seems at least one is so locked into their own point of view that they are likely not even opening some of the letters on their desks.

    I’ll explain it here publicly once again by showing this but one glaring example of these developers commitment to negotiation and how they resolve ‘issues’. NSWCHPT’s own published results of the many years of community consultation showed unequivocally that the most submissions received were on the issue of public land at Lot 7005. The submissions were ‘nearly double any others that came from the public and called for the retention of all or most of Lot 7005 at Massy-Greene.’

    NSWCHPT response, in their latest ‘amended PoM’, concerning this number one issue was to do absolutely nothing about it and publish their plans right smack on top of public park land. If a councillor can not comprehend how it all has been going to date based on the information available, I do not understand how they feel they could be capable of doing their job fairly representing the public on Council.

  2. In my opinion, the only way forward in this matter is for the Byron Council to take out a writ in the Supreme Court charging the NSW Govt. with theft of our caravan parks. I am sure that enough public money could be generated through ongoing fundraisers to cover the costs of such action.
    The same action is necessary regarding the Mullumbimby Hospital site that has been stolen from the community by NSW Health.

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