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Byron Shire
February 1, 2023

Two Bruns parks PoMs to go before public 

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The revised Ferry Reserve map from state government-run NSW Crown Holiday Parks Trust. That image and the Massey Greene plan are in the upcoming May 25 council agenda, public attachments: www.byron.nsw.gov.au/meetings
The revised Ferry Reserve map from state government-run NSW Crown Holiday Parks Trust. That image and the Massey Greene plan are in the May 25 council agenda, public attachments: www.byron.nsw.gov.au/meetings

Despite at times heated debate between councillors and the gallery, the Greens with other councillor support voted on Thursday to support two plans of management (PoMs) of the three Brunswick Heads holiday parks to go on exhibition.

No independent legal advice will be sought over the long contested encroached lands by the state government, and Echonetdaily understands that this now sets in motion the formal transfer of long contested land to the state government.

Cr Sarah Ndaiye’s rescission motion overturns a previous motion from April 20 that maintained a long held Greens position on calling for clarity around alleged encroached boundaries. PoMs for the Ferry Reserve and Massey Greene will soon be open for public submissions while the Terrace will be still negotiated. 

Residents opposed in the chamber were clearly disgusted at the Greens’ capitulation which comes with little public notice.

While the state-government run North Coast Holiday Parks Trust (NCHPT) have promised 10m public of access setbacks along shorelines, it appears not just boundaries will now be all under the NCHPT’s control; large areas of road reserves and Crown lands look set to be subsumed for the commercial benefit of the NCHPT.

Much of the rhetoric by the Green councillors had been canvassed and reported previously by Echonetdaily; they all spoke in similar tone (except Cr Jeannette Martin, who did not speak). They claim they reached the best deal possible and that they believe if they don’t agree to the demands, then NCHPT will take council to court or reverse to previous PoMs.

Those PoMs and others before them were roundly condemned by the pubic at the March 9 meeting with NCHPT.

No legal advice

Cr Cate Coorey tabled a motion to seek independent legal advice – with support from Labor’s Cr Paul Spooner and a rowdy public – but was defeated.

No independent legal advice was included in the rescission motion pushed by the Greens, despite requests.

Additionally Labor’s Jan Hackett – with the gallery – challenged the Greens on the lack of their legal clarity, yet the Greens instead bunkered down and pushed on regardless in the knowledge they had the numbers. 

Mayor Simon Richardson did however ask planning staff chief Shannon Burt if there were talks with NCHPT after the last motion, to which she replied there were informal talks about the options, yet the topic of deemed refusal was not raised.

Throughout debate, the mayor did not mention legal advice and instead claimed any resistance was useless by using a poker analogy.

‘We are playing with two 2’s and they [the NCHPT] have a full house,’ he said.

‘We demanded three metre setbacks previously, and now we get 10m or even 15m. Justice will not be done [with this matter], no matter what we say.’

A similar lack of trust in council’s ability to defend itself came from councillor Alan Hunter. The Nationals Party-aligned stalwart said: ‘We are like the flea on the back of an elephant. One squirt and were off into orbit!’

He said, ’This is another example of deferring and putting everything off,’ he said.

2,000 signed submission

Cr Cate Coorey reminded the chamber that a 2,000 signed submission supported council interpretation of the boundaries. She said, ‘Would we accept this from any other developer? Absolutely not. We have acted in good faith, let’s keep with that good faith.’

Additionally residents in the gallery reminded councillors that in 2015, the community won a similar court case with the Friends of King Edward Park taking on the city of Newcastle. This decision will set a precedent, said members from the gallery.

Council’s own doing: Greens Cr Lyon

Despite this, Greens Cr Michael Lyon made the extraordinary claim that the entire issue was in fact Council’s own doing.

He said without elaborating, ‘It was our mismanagement that led to this.’

Yet The Echo’s report of the takeover in 2006 tells a different story. Councillors, including Greens mayor Jan Barham, questioned the legitimacy of the takeover.

Lesley Patterson wrote on August 1, 2006 that the reason the government had sacked Council was that it had ‘failed to address serious matters outlined in the audit [of council’s parks’ management].

‘[Yet] The Department of Lands would not reveal how many complaints had been received or give specific details on the nature of the complaints.

‘“Environmental concerns, public safety, OH&S [occupational health and safety], non compliance with licensing requirements,” was as far as John McClymont from the Department of Lands would be drawn [into the reasons for the parks’ management dismissal].’

Ms Barham told The Echo, ‘There is no way the issues raised in the audit warrant the action that has been taken by the Department.’

Cr Diane Woods said at the time: ‘My serious questions haven’t had serious answers,’ while Cr Richard Staples suggested that minister Tony Kelly ‘didn’t understand what he was putting his name to. It’s all about profit.’

Additionally the press release at the time by minister Tony Kelly (later disgraced for corrupt conduct) described the caravan parks as offering ‘a tourism experience far below the potential these prime sites could provide’.

At last Thursday’s meeting, Cr Lyon also said another remark without elaboration: ‘I believe the boundaries won’t be set after this [rescission motion].’

‘It will [just] move it forward.’

‘We have wins and loses and we have to deal with these people on many levels.’

Labor Cr Spooner also asked rhetorically, ‘Why the change of heart [from the last motion]? What conversations have been had? Whose interests are being served by this motion?’

He then sparred with the Greens mayor over political differences between Labor and the Greens, which was a little awkward, boring and unenlightening. Of course both men have political ambitions, that’s abundantly clear.

In all, it appeared the claims of urgency or threats of returning to the bad old PoMs was all without any real merit and still remains largely unexplained.

Council’s legal services co-ordinator even stated during debate that he did not consider this as a legal challenge.

Update: This story has been updated in regards to Cr Lyon’s comments over the holiday park’s history and amended Cr Coorey as the author of another motion.

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  1. It’s a sad day for grassroots democracy, for social justice, fairness and equity when the community gets shafted by The Greens.
    Just what was did NSWCHPT CEO Steve Edmonds say or do to our new naive Green Councillors in order to secure their support for changes to the operational boundaries of the Bruns caravan parks in the revised POM.
    Is it Ok for the Public Trustee to spend 8 months spruiking plans that endorse Crown Lands (CLD) preferred boundaries and fail to include any options with the operational boundaries determined by BSC (2012-2015)?
    Is it OK for the Public Trustee to ignore “myriad” resolutions by BSC that seek to retain 3 specific sites outside the operational area for SHARED public use in his concept plans?
    Is it OK for PT to refuse to display a map detailing BSC’s preferred boundaries and the areas of ex-road reserve lands that CLD acquired in 2012 and NSWCHPT is now seeking to surreptitiously add to the Holiday parks, at a public meeting?
    Is it OK for PT to refuse to make a further license application with the amended boundaries as requested by BSC in May & Dec 2015?
    Is it OK for the PT to both undermine and circumvent BSC licensing authority, in seeking endorsement for the inclusion of all disputed encroached lands in the revised POM?
    Is it OK for the Public Trustee to mislead and deceive Councillors and the community into endorsing concept plans that seek to change park boundaries by default?
    Is it OK for the Public Trustee to avoid and shutdown all discussion of boundary adjustments and repeatedly claim NSWCHPT’s concept drawings contain “agreed” boundaries and has “continuous legal existing use rights” to the disputed lands? In the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
    Is it OK for PT to ignore contentious issues and concerns at his misrepresentation of facts and lack of supporting evidence for his claims?
    Can the PT explain how designated road reserve lands not acquired by CLD until 2012, can simultaneously be licensed for use as caravan parks?
    Is it Ok for the PT to intimidate and frighten Councillors into supporting his plan, as several have spoken publicly of possible threats and fears, flow on benefits and vague promises and the overweening need to “have a good relationship” with NSWCHPT.
    Is it OK for Council to ram through NSWCHPT’s proposal without any consultation, allowing just 5 days to view new plans, that handover all the disputed lands to NSWCHPT? Is it OK, because Councillors like the plan and don’t know what they’re giving away?
    Both Council & the community have been shafted by NSWCHPT CEO Steve Edmonds cunning strategy. He must be feeling pretty good!

  2. For those involved in the caravan park issue as long as myself, I am disgusted with the blinding repetitive statement that since Council didn’t get off the encroached lands how can we expect the Trust to do so. Let’s put this into perspective. Council, was addressing the encroachment issues from the late 1990s. Successive POM failed to be signed off by the relevant Ministers until 2014. The preparation of those was nothing less than Machiavellian.

    It has to be acknowledged that Council, in good faith kept the caravan parks operating during all of this time. The multiplier effect of their closure would have been devastating. s68 licenses to operate, now turned on Council by the Trust as evidence of ‘continous use rights’ is what I would consider as a misappropriation of the evidence. But historial context is what the Trust doesn’t want to acknowledge, nor does it want to acknowledge the fact that a lot of the sites were on Council’s road reserve, had seasonal use only and indeed, on Lot 7005 in all probability were an unlawful use of the land…..Since Council’s dismissal in 2006, they have have continued to collect the rent from these sites, extended the area of operation, changed the use, intensified the use and operated them 24/7. They also transferred Lot 7005 in 2009 from Port Facilities and Services to General Use thus changing the permissible uses of the land.

    As far as the lauded 10m setback. That was a resolution of Council from 2000 (!) which has been finally recognised by the Trust BUT, it only applied to the northern boundary of Massy Greene and the foreshore of Simpson’s Creek. Don’t how your breath on that been applied to the Terrace, as Mayor Simon Richardson in one of his recent blogs implies that the 10m setback may not apply to the whole of the foreshore.

    The make up of the 10m setback is an unknown….where is the foreshore boundary, where is the operational boundary, where is the buffer zone. Is the proposed unfettered walkway inside or outside the caravan park. What would the implications be should the caravan parks go to long term commercial leasing as recommended in a confident report?

    At Ferry, the Trust’s proposed development takes into its commercial operation approx 17000sq of acknowledged koala wildlife corridor. Currently, this is part of the grassed foreshore area that makes up over 50% of the compulsorily acquired Riverside Crescent. The other part of the corridor is on predominately 7b Coastal Habitat land between it and the high water mark. The operational boundary for the caravan park excluded all this invaluable land. And of course it is food prone. The Trust wants to use the compulsory acquired land (including part of the corridor) over to cabins and short term sites.

    Leveraging the argument to support the rescission motion, was the boat ramps and how we had ‘gained’. The boat ramps have always been outside the caravan parks. However, they are integral to the development of the caravan parks. The caravan parks are marketed on their access to the Brunswick River. Making an easier access to the boat ramp at Ferry is an achievement but the land the used to normally access that ramp is now given over to far more favourable siting of cabins with fantastic views over the river.

    Access to the boat ramp on the western side of Massy Greene is thwart with problems that the Trust is well aware.

    As for the repetitive argument that we have ‘gained’ a children’s playground on part of Lot 7005, The site is totally inappropriate and another far more appropriate place is within the Master Plan for the redevelopment of the boat harbour. It would be far safer than the proposed site surrounded by traffic movement. A better use would be for vehicle and trailer parking to service the increasing demand for such parking by those wanting to access the river for their non-powered water craft.

    Let’s see what happens when the POM for Massy Greene and Ferry go on public exhibiton. If the Trust wants to have any standing in the community it needs, for one thing, to make all submissions available on their website as they are received. Only in this way will anyone be able to track how, if any amendments are made to the POM. It certainly needs to improve on what happened post the November 2016 walkabouts.


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