NSW planning minister Anthony Roberts (Liberal) has threatened Byron Shire Council he will personally intervene unless a development control plan for West Byron is produced to his liking – and timing.
West Byron developers have already submitted a development application (DA) to the state government in an attempt to override the yet-to-be adopted DCP.
The West Byron Urban Land Release Area, which encompasses a 108-hectare site located 2.5 kilometres west of Byron Bay on Ewingsdale Road, is the largest development in Byron Shire in a generation.
Tomorrow’s (April 20) council agenda reveals minister Roberts wrote to GM Ken Gainger saying, ‘The proposed [DCP] amendments, if pursued, would likely result in significant land-forming works and clearing to enable drainage, and a loss of dwelling yield across the site.’
Council forced to justify position
The letter goes on to give council 28 days to ‘show cause as to why I should not… direct council to make the DCP’ without councillors’ proposed amendments.
But Cr Cate Coorey, who as president of the Byron Residents Group fought the development, claims the current DCP prepared by the developers is ‘inadequate’ and needs amending.
‘The previous council was happy to accept the DCP put forward by the developers,’ she told Echonetdaily.
‘Pru Goward rezoned West Byron without ever coming here and now Anthony Roberts MP is forcing us into making a DCP that is totally inadequate.’
‘It ignored the major issues with the site: koalas, endangered frog habitat, acid sulfate soils, flooding and traffic. Apparently contributing to the demise of a species isn’t even an issue in this DCP; a road goes straight through endangered frog habitat.
‘The DCP also gives the developers sections of our road reserve to build an acoustic barrier rather than building it on their own land. This is crazy.
Housing yields v waterways
‘The minister’s letter says that,“the proposed amendments, if pursued, would likely result in significant land-forming works and clearing to enable drainage, and a loss of dwelling yield across the site”.
‘How water moves through West Byron is fundamental to the site.
‘The minister shows more concern with housing yields for the developers than the health of our waterways and the safety of the town.
‘Byron Bay missed the worst of post-cyclone Debbie. We may not be so lucky next time. Water on this site – with all its hard surfaces – is going to have to go somewhere.
‘If proper drainage across the site is not included in the DCP then we may have a battle in getting the developers to put it in,’ Cr Coorey said.
Mayor defends delay
Byron mayor Simon Richardson says he shares the community’s concerns regarding the development.
‘A lot of the information was contestable within the [developers’] DCP: things like the koala management plan that was provided; the traffic studies that were provided and whether they were effective enough,’ he told ABC radio this morning.
‘The government… are very keen to make it happen… to do whatever it takes to allow a very quick and easy development to occur… and will resist pesky local councils trying to make sure that if it does happen, it happens as thoroughly and as effectively as possible.
‘What the council has been trying to do since the election is to at least peer review the assumptions underpinning the DCP, so we can look our community in the eye and say all the information… is best practice and is thorough.
‘For us to spend that time and council’s money is justified given this is a once in a generation development, he said.