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Byron Shire
May 17, 2021

Byron Greens and council staff cop further flak over bypass

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The approved Byron Bay bypass, aligned with Butler Street. Source Byron Shire Council
The approved Byron Bay bypass, aligned with Butler Street. Source Byron Shire Council

An angry group of Butler Street residents unloaded upon staff and the Greens councillors at last Thursday’s Byron Shire Council meeting, with accusations of lies and suppressing information as to whether it was possible to build a bypass on the disused rail corridor instead of past their homes.

Throughout public access Greens mayor Simon Richardson struggled to keep the meeting to order against a hostile gallery. Residents have long called for the bypass to run up the unused rail corridor instead, something they say has happened in Moree. They say it will be cheaper than building a new road and won’t cut into wetlands.

No alternative costings

The reason the issue was again before council was owing to a motion from Cr Paul Spooner (Country Labor), who wanted to explore rail corridor costings.

He told the chamber there has never been a costing on the alternative, and referred to a recent letter to local state MP Tamara Smith (Greens) which says the government would ‘be happy to consider its proposal in further detail’.

‘This is a game changer,’ he said.

But it’s advice that is at odds with staff opinion; they have consistantly  said it’s unlikely council would be given permission.

Despite the new evidence, Crs Martin, Lyon, Ndiaye, Richardson and Cameron voted against Cr Spooner’s motion.

Instead, Crs Richardson, Lyon, Martin, Ndiaye and Hunter had the numbers to vote on a motion that acknowledges the estimated $20m bypass cost – including $4m from Council – and seek funding for the remaining $5.5m.

The mayor told the chamber it was unlikely council could purchase the rail corridor for a road, yet in the same speech said, ‘We are very close to gaining control of the land.’

The mayor said later in a press release, ‘We’ve spent $2 million in preparing for construction. 

‘We’ve successfully defended this decision at a cost of $450,000.’

Cr Richardson said, ‘We’ve said from the beginning that the town centre bypass will not solve our traffic woes, but it is part of the solution for keeping cars out.’

‘For residents and workers travelling from Sunrise to Suffolk Park, not getting stuck in traffic could take up to tens of minutes off a trip and help improve traffic flow.’

Another reason for the mayor’s support of Butler Street was so the rail corridor ‘could be become a key open space feature of our town if we can take down the fences and keep it as a social space.’

Yet it was pointed out at the meeting by Cr Spooner that it’s a planning decision outside of the Byron masterplan scope and was ‘not set in stone.’

It was also pointed out at the meeting that a road may be more suitable given remediation may be required if the ground is found to be contaminated.

The mayor later claimed in a press release that the money promised – $10.5m – is exclusively tied to the Butler Street bypass, yet during debate he said that as it was not allocated to a grant, it could evaporate if it wasn’t used for this purpose.

Cr Spooner told the chamber he regreted voting for the current bypass alignment previously given the new information provided by Ms Smith.

Butler Street resident Paul Jones told The Echo, ‘We have a mutant Green zombie monster who has completed the stealth takeover of Byron Shire Council in the voting block of Richardson, Ndiaye, Lyon and Martin.’

Green zombies

‘They swallowed lock and stock the unsubstantiated costings of the current proposal, which does not even meet the consent conditions. The mayor raved on about how much it was going to cost to buy the corridor land, yet there was no problem grabbing the Crown reserve market site for a carpark and bus station.

‘It was an appalling display of “Up you, we have the power, move out of the way”.’

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  1. The Byron By Pass is being constructed for the one purpose to open the door to the massive West Byron development.

    It is my understanding that without the bypass the West Byron development cannot proceed,

    I think 20 million plus cost for the possibility of saving some tradies 10 minutes driving time is a bit rich.

    These guys should come clean and place this whole gamut of proposed development is for the West Byron development.

    This is notwithstanding that the road will cause adverse impact on endangered species, cultural heritage and precious wetlands without assessment.

    Despite the Court case etc the EIS for example did not even do a full account of the vegetation that is to be destroyed

    • It may be so that the West Byron development will not proceed without the bypass, but that hardly makes your suggested corollary true. Surely the reason a bypass is proposed is to relieve traffic congestion in the busy Jonson Street area and surrounds. Other towns in the area do not suffer this sort of congestion because they have invested in more or less adequate road infrastructure – Ballina has long provided for cars and trucks avoiding its CBD. While I understand the argument that road investment that leads to faster flows of traffic can have an effect of encouraging longer journeys and more traffic, that does not mean bypassing busy shopping precincts is not a worthwhile investment, one which in this case would enhance the pleasure of walking or pedaling around Bay’s CBD.

  2. This is a Claytion’s bypass – the one your’s having when it’s not a bypass

    “‘For residents and workers travelling from Sunrise to Suffolk Park, not getting stuck in traffic could take up to tens of minutes off a trip and help improve traffic flow.”

    – this would only happen if somehow the “bypass” was restricted to those workers. Since it is not, it will be just as congested as the existing roads when the induced traffic fills it up.

  3. Some good ways to ruin Byron

    1/ get rid of the iconic markets close to town and build a bus station and multi story car park … is it not better to put a car park on the site next to Woolies and revitalise that end of town with the people who would walk in from there. Also would the majority of car users really use a bus service or is the plan to make it Byron only resident access to town and force visitors to bus in.

    2/ Make the Butler street a main traffic thoroughfare when the rail corridor is an obvious option that preserves the old Byron that is the Butler St area
    Woolly ideas like an all pedestrian Jonson St and pedestrian rail corridor precinct are all well and good but with the town pinched on 2 sides by the ocean and the swamp I don’t see how Byron can sacrifice this land to non transport purposes.

    Now if we could run 2 trains, one going every 30 minutes to Bangalow and back on the town ( South) side and one every 20 to 30 minutes from the new station to North Byron, then maybe the rail corridor could be of some use again as a transport link and also a tourist attraction and the Butler St bypass may be not such a bad option.

    As for Council saying they don’t own the rail corridor and they would own Butler St for all perpetuity, I reckon it will be irrelevant in 100 to 200 years as Byron will have been reclaimed by the ocean. Perhaps it is best to look at the effects now and not look too far into the future with grand schemes

    Also have to ask if the new roundabout on the Ewingsdale Road is being built to facilitate the West Byron development and will that development be extended towards Suffolk Park progressively in future decades in much the same way that Tallowood in Mullumbimby is being extended in an arc to meet up at the back of the Mullum showgrounds.


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