A well attended extraordinary meeting last Thursday (July 6) saw councillors unanimously vote to reject a massive housing/industrial proposal on Ewingsdale Road.
All councillors spoke against the West Byron application by Queensland-based company Villa World and Sydney-based developer Terry Agnew, citing failures of consent and insufficient information supplied. The DA is also opposed by Council staff, but council’s submission will be sent to the Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP), who will have the final say.
Even Nationals Party aligned Cr Alan Hunter, who originally voted for the development to be handed to the state govt for ‘consideration’ in the previous council term, said the developers needed to ‘pull their finger out.’
During public access, resident and farmer Tony Flick told the gallery there has been a longtime issue with treated effluent flowing onto his land on Ewingsdale Road from the West Byron sewage treatment plant (STP).
‘This discharge has been escalating rapidly owing to he increase in development in the Byron Bay area. A 35 acre portion of our farmland is now in such a degraded state that grasses won’t grow there anymore. ‘Most private landowners would have taken legal action against council many years ago, but this is not the fix. It would only take funds away from our degraded and inadequate infrastructure. Council started to work towards reducing the impact of this on our land, although the process has taken two years and there is no end in sight. It is time that the focus is taken away from development at any cost, and [we] start caring for the long term residents and ratepayers who have built and supported this community.’
Additionally Melaleuca Drive resident Tim Hochgrebe told the gallery that he has not been presented with plans showing how two metres of fill will sit alongside Melaleuca Drive and his property. ‘There are no answers,’ he said and also agreed with Cr Ndiaye that drainage had not been addressed.
Later in debate councillors stressed the point that public submissions will add weight to council’s opposition and encouraged everyone who is concerned to get involved.
They asked staff if the applicant had responded to the council’s recently approved West Byron DCP. Staff replied that no offical reply had been received other than an acknowledgement.
As previously reported by Echonetdaily, the government has intervened throughout the process to ensure the applicants get the planning outcome they want, despite strong resident opposition. The State planning department amended Byron’s LEP and allowed the developer to submit a DA without a DCP. Additionally NSW planning minister Anthony Roberts also indicated he would intervene if the development did not proceed to his liking.
Failures and insufficient information
Nevertheless, Council’s response to the JRPP raises concerns of failures to address key elements of the proposal, including land owners consent (from private, Crown and Council), and a ‘failure to adequately address the design principles as outlined within the approved Byron Development Control Plan 2014 Chapter 8 West Byron Urban Release Area including all matters included in E8.10.’
Councillors say there is ‘Insufficient information to enable an informed consideration of the location detail or truck movement (including time frames) concerning the use of fill on the site, as well as the lack of understanding of impacts of fill and resultant drainage on adjoining neighbour’s properties, SEPP 14 wetlands and Belongil creek catchment area.’
As for environmental considerations, councillors say there is a failure to adequately address potential impacts on the threatened koala population and enhance threatened species and habitat. This includes the existing Wallum froglet populations.
The submission will also reference land holders, and ‘take into account concerns on the capacity of the receiving environment of the Byron STP for the extra sewage effluent that would be generated by development of West Byron.’
‘DoPE [the planning department] note that overload of the receiving environment has been an issue for landholders on the flow path from the STP to Belongil Creek, since sewage from the old South Byron STP was diverted to the current Byron STP a decade ago.’
Council have also requested the JRPP hold ‘a public briefing meeting after the exhibition has ended, and invite any person who made a submission to present, before the assessment report is finalised.’
For more info on JRPP visit www.planningpanels.nsw.gov.au/