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Byron Shire
May 26, 2024

Court approves Butler Street as Byron Bay bypass route

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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

The Land and Environment Court has dismissed a resident appeal against Byron Shire Council’s plans to build a Byron Bay town centre bypass along Butler Street.

The judgement was handed down on Friday.

The court case the project delayed the project by at least a year and the council’s cost to defend the case was about $450,000.

The council’s legal services coordinator, Ralph James, said the court approved the bypass in its entirety, including all the conditions of consent.

The decision brings to an end an almost 12-month legal battle with the Butler Street Community Network (BSCN), which brought on the challenge after their street was approved for the bypass by the Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP) in June last year.

BSCN claimed there was room on the adjoining rail corridor for a bypass, rail services and a bicycle track.

But the council argued that it had no ownership the rail corridor, which is controlled by the state government, and that it was not wide enough for all three purposes.

Mr James said that, ‘as far back as 1988 the Butler Street route was identified within the Byron Local Environmental Plan as the location of the town centre bypass,’ adding that ‘in 2014 the Butler Street alignment became the preferred route’.

‘Key to the decision was the fact that the Butler Street alignment comprises the existing road network, road reserve and council-owned land. This means that the council will be the owner and custodian of this land in perpetuity,’ Mr James said.

Protected wetlands ignored

BSCN said the Land & Environment Court Commissioner ‘did not enter into consideration of assessment of alternative routes as required by the EIS, she dismissed concerns raised by the group in this respect and found no basis to warrant refusal of the development in the protected wetlands.’

Group spokesperson Paul Jones said the council ‘clearly refused to assess and compare the rail corridor option in terms of ecological impacts in the wetlands and we believe it is still in breach of the Environmental Protection and Assessment Act requirements.’

‘Byron Bay will now lose a valuable and irreplaceable component of its social and cultural heritage along Butler Street. A 50km/h main road will replace the local cul-de-sac road, Jonson Street traffic and all heavy vehicles will be diverted onto a clearway in the critical habitat wetlands straight out into a residential area with no pedestrian crossings in one of the busiest residential pedestrian areas in town.

‘The iconic Byron Markets will have to go from their home grounds as a bus station and multi-storey car park has been planned. The final blow is council’s expressed intention to now rezone the Butler Street neighbourhood commercial and complete the commercial sprawl and development of Byron Bay.’

While thanking Greens Ballina MP Tamara Smith ‘for her continued support of our community campaign’ Mr Jones could not resist taking a swipe at ‘so-called Greens Mayor Simon Richardson who has given no support for our cause and has actively worked against the legitimate concerns of our community and its environment for a best practice outcome that would help preserve much the qualities of Byron Bay in our part of town for the future generations to come.’

Vital infrastructure

Byron Shire GM Ken Gainger said it was ‘disappointing that the council had no choice but to defend the court action.’

‘For a shire of our size [$450,000 is] significant money that could have been spent elsewhere,’ he said.

‘The town centre bypass is a vital piece of road infrastructure needed to ease current traffic congestion.

‘Whilst it won’t solve all the traffic problems facing the popular town, the bypass will be of particular importance to locals, business and tradespeople who need to cross from one side of town to the other.

‘And as the numbers of visitors who come into Byron continues to grow, our road network will become even more chaotic if we do not start to create and build solutions.

‘Our community has told us through the Byron Bay Town Centre Masterplan that progressively making the town centre more pedestrian friendly is a priority and we need to keep the cars on the periphery.

‘Alleviating some of the traffic pressure and opening up the rail corridor as a green space with pedestrian access from the Butler Street Reserve are key components to achieving this community supported goal.

‘While we appreciate that some Butler Street residents do not want the road to be upgraded, their primary concerns will be alleviated by the implementation of the consent conditions approved by the court.

‘Butler Street is the designated route which is now approved by the Land and Environment Court decision, is supported with substantial state government funding and has the Roads and Maritime Service on-board as the appointed construction authority,’ Mr Gainger said.

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  1. The Council had to defend it because it’s a woeful idea on so many levels.

    But as far as pure practicality goes, directing traffic through Butler St straight across the railway and back into Jonson St is hard to top for sheer idiocy.
    You can see why the community has lost faith in it’s elected officials, particularly Simon Richardson, when this is the quality of the “solutions” they come up as a means to solving Byron’s diabolical traffic problem.

  2. The GM says ” the bypass will be of particular importance to locals, business and tradespeople who need to cross from one side of town to the other.” and it would work if somehow only these groups were permitted to use it.
    The truth is that the numbers of day-trippers that far exceeds capacity now will quickly turn this ‘bypass’ into another congested road with no benefit at all to locals.

    • I know of no other place in Australia where locals give them selves preferential access to parking in commercial areas. Now we have a complaint that visitors will use local roads that the writer would clearly prefer to be reserved for locals. It does not seem to occur to some locals that “day trippers” and other visitors are the lifeblood of the Bay’s economy. Start charging locals the same parking fees – they are better placed to walk, cycle or catch a bus into the CBD – and you might reduce some of your traffic. It would also help if pedestrians and cyclists could cross the railway corridor from Butler Street into the CBD – you could do so in the 1960s but apparently not now.

  3. I agree that this option will become a ‘bypass’ of choice for locals and tourists alike- but only for a few short blocks.It is actually mis-named as it does the OPPOSITE of bypassing the town- it directs traffic right into the already highly congested heart of Jonson St. at Marvell St. A true bypass would avoid the town centre completely( as in BYPASS it) and funnel the traffic out somewhere else,perhaps near Mitre 10. The current plan seems like a very dumb idea. The corner of Marvell and Jonson is already a very busy and dangerous intersection ( especially for pedestrians.) I find this plan completely lacking in logic and incomprehensible. Plus if you don’t want to try and cross into Marvell St,you will have turn left and deal with the additional traffic generate by the new mall development.

    • Margot, I thought by that picture at the top that the bypass is going through to Mitre10. That would be sensible. Though I’ve always wondered why the bypass doesn’t skip Shirley and Butler altogether and run around the back to the service station opposite Belongil.
      The wetlands would be a problem, but if the road is elevated, it could flow underneath and not get flooded.
      Lising the market place to a multi story carpark and turning Butler into comercial zoning is bonkers. It is disrespectful to the residents and will change the character and look of the town. The carpark will be an eye sore on a similar scale to that skijump that just got dumped.

      So many things I would tweak on this bypass, but those are the main ones.

  4. It is disappointing that Ken Gainger continues to fabricate arguments that the Byron Bay Masterplan is somehow justification of the Butler Street Bypass. The Byron Bay Masterplan group were expressly forbidden to consider the bypass or any alternative. Anything proposed by the Masterplan that would impact on a bypass alternative, its outcome or its location is entirely invalid as nothing alternate could be considered. At least finally Ken’s other big argument that the rail corridor alternative was not supported by Transport for NSW has been popped with a letter to the contrary from the Ministers office. I would love Ken to go on about his letter he managed to extract from the then Minister for Transport Gladys Berejiklian where he wrangled a letter from the unsuspecting minister of a complete generalisation that she was “lead to believe” (by Ken no doubt) that the Casino to Murwillumbah Rail corridor was not suitable for multi modal transit. And on that he convinced all the Councillors that a road in the rail corridor in Byron Bay was not on.

  5. Building west Byron’s 1100 houses is the most stupid thing ever for a town with only water on more than 2 sides and a swamp in the middle. There is no land to build the infrastructure to cope.

    The by pass will be a big traffic jam at the police station roundabout and the benefits will be very limited.

    A one way system in town is needed to more efficiently process traffic through the town and eliminate all the stop, start and give way. The proposed one way system would comprise Jonson St, Marvel St, Middleton St and Lawson St

  6. So public comment in the master plan want the town centre more pedestrian friendly. Then carry out Lorraine Mafia Williams’ suggestion to make Johnson St a car free zone from up near Beach Hotel down to PO pedestrian crossing and Id add down to Cheeky Monkeys. Seating, trees and people friendly space in the heart of town like Coffs Hbr had with a sound shell for concerts. Her idea was seen as a joke. Yet what are we doing? We are allowing a mega monstrosity of larger Cinemas and Mall we don’t need. We allow ugly jerry built slums at the Short Stop and across the road from the Servo at the Short Stop whatever that is going to be. We talk of multi level carparks in market space pushing the market out of town reducing accessibility to those only with cars which discounts thousands of backpackers annually. We talk of beautification of the town centre and employ out of town designers when we have local expertise who actually live here and know the feel of the place. Whenever I read the word beautification I shudder as it means gentrification homoginisation sterilization like the concrete pathway cutting across grass cover across from the Beach Hotel totally unnecessary and rendering the space inflexible for certain events where once people sat as an audience to concerts.State Govt promotes us to gain tourist dollars but won’t support infrastructure maintenance forcing council to tax the residents with rates hikes always refusing to put in a $1 bed tax cos accommodation places squeal they’ll go broke and alcohol providers: bottle shops and Pubs could still do some of the heavy lifting since they make the most out of the visitors than anyone else. We’ve got it back to front. We don’t change to fit more visitors in. We leave it all as is and if they want to come visit they have to cope with it crowded. Suggestions of cars kept out of town and parked at the underused carpark in the CavanbahCentre a product of Julia Gillards Big Australia infrastructure building frenzy that kept Oz afloat in 08..and ferrying visitors into town in shuttles is at least a suggestion but would never work as Australians won’t part with their vehicle to carry their beach towels. The horrific train line to Elements could’ve gone a bit further to pick up people parked at CavanbahCentre but Elements are so confidant their train will be used by guests they wouldn’t have thought of that. Locals along the way are welcome to use it but does anyone kn ow how much a ticket will be yet? So if someone can come up with an idea how to keep cars out (except service vehicles) that would be better than trying to make room for them. No matter how high the multi level carpark is it will never be enough as they will just keep coming if we keep making room. If we build it they will come.

  7. Anything that diverts traffic away from the high pedestrian area in Johnson St will help and is loooong overdue.
    The few property owners affected should receive compensation – in a perfect world they would have gotten the $450k the lawyers got; though $450k each would be more like it.
    How about getting the West Byron developers to compensate the Butler St property owners? That would be real justice!

  8. I’m very interested in why on the proofed maps that I have seen of the bypass route there is a roundabout where the road turns left (at the end of its wetland part) to go one to m10.This roundabout has an exit going south.South now is wetland and bush north of Lillipilli.
    Is one of the reasons for this bypass to give access to land that is currently unaccessible ? Perhaps to open it up for developers???


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