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Byron Shire
August 3, 2021

Staff interfere with Byron markets

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Byron Bay market at Butler Street Reserve. Photo contributed
Byron Bay market at Butler Street Reserve. Photo contributed

Council staff, headed by general manager Ken Gainger, have taken it upon themselves to prepare a development application (DA) to use Cavanbah Centre on Ewinsgsdale Road as a primitive camping and a market site.

It comes without informing councillors or the agreement of stallholders who operate on Butler Street.

Consultant Mike Svikis, a former Byron Shire Council planner, was paid an undisclosed sum by staff to prepare the 31-page DA, which is on exhibition until August 23.

While the DA attempts to play down any possible competition with the existing markets, Cr Paul Spooner has told The Echo he has concerns it could impact on current stallholders. Cr Spooner is manager of the Byron Bay Community Centre, which manages the markets.

He said, ‘The main problem is that this appears small gain for income; the argument in the DA is about a need for income to cover the large cost of the facility. This small gain may result in a big hit for stallholders and could send some to the wall. This idea is not coming from demand, it’s from wanting more income.’

As for moving the existing Butler Street markets to the sportsfield, Cr Spooner says he ‘hasn’t heard one stallholder in favour.’

‘Location is very important. Generally markets are held in towns and are within walking distance. It’s more difficult to get to the Cavanbah Centre and it could create more traffic. It’s worked well on Butler Street for nearly three decades.’ 

The Echo understands the genernal manager has long campaigned to move the existing markets from Butler Street to the Cavanbah Centre on Ewingsdale Road.

The Echo asked mayor Simon Richardson whether he was concerned that staff have interfered on a political decision.

He replied after print deadline that, ‘I understand the DA is about providing the possibility for more uses. For example, by allowing a “glamping” option, we may be able to get sporting teams to use the facility over summer pre season etc. There is no move to move current markets out to the Cavanbah Centre.’

The need for the proposal, according to the DA, is because ‘large facilities are expensive to run and Council has a responsibility to ensure that this facility can generate a reasonable income proportionate to its running costs.’

The DA also says Council has been approached by ‘boutique-style market operators’ to use the Cavanbah Centre and only development consent would allow that use. A fee could be charged for use, says the DA, which could ‘offset the running costs of the facility.’

Staff reply

Council staff have declined to disclose who the ‘boutique-style market operators’ are quoted in the development application, and have not provided an estimated number of market stallholders who are interested in being involved.

Yet they defended their decision to prepare a DA, saying that the centre’s plan of management (POM), adopted by Council on June 22 this year, ‘authorises a wide range of potential uses for the Cavanbah Centre including primitive camping and markets.’ 

Byron Shire Council’s manager for open space and resource recovery Michael Matthews said that prior to the adopted plan, ‘there was extensive public consultation including a public hearing to determine the future uses of this community facility.’ 

He says the DA for primitive camping grounds and markets was ‘lodged by Byron Shire Council staff to allow for the Cavanbah Centre to be used for different purposes as outlined in the Plan of Management. This includes markets and primitive camping,’ Mr Matthews said.

Mr Matthews restated the reasoning contained within the DA and said that without consent, approval for a market-type event cannot be given ‘until a development application for this type of use is approved’.

The Echo asked, ‘Are Council staff concerned this would impact on the current markets, held at Butler Street?’

Mr Matthews replied, ‘Byron Shire Council is a strong supporter of the existing Byron Farmers Market and the Byron monthly market. Last year we granted both ­markets five-year leases. 

‘These markets are important, colourful, vibrant regular events for locals and visitors and Council believe  they make a significant contribution to the community and the economy.

‘The purpose of the development application for the Cavanbah Centre is to accommodate additional markets from time to time and they would not compete with the existing community markets in the Byron Shire,’ Mr Matthews said.

He says Council is also seeking approval for 40 short-term camping sites to cater for people using the Cavanbah Centre, including visiting sports teams that are training or playing at the Centre. It will not be used as a full-time commercial camping ground. 


The Echo also asked, ‘What oversight is there for a consent authority (Council) to assess a developer’s DA (Council)?’

He replied, ‘The development application is being assessed by an independent planner, as per Council policy, and will also be assessed by the Planning Review Committee prior to being determined’.

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  1. Having acknowledged Councils concerns, this looks as a trial, similar to the car-park-chargers trial in Byron Bay. It became, well: what it is.

  2. Byron Shire Council are under way to transform the Butler Street Reserve into a “transport interchange” i.e. a Bus Station. Geotechnical and soil contamination investigations are happening right now on the site, the site is being transferred from Crown ownership to Byron Shire Council. The proposed plans for the bus station are incompatible with the Byron Markets as we know them, Council will work and is working to relocate the markets. The Cavanbar markets DA is exactly that. Council’s claim that they have renewed the markets lease for 5 years means exactly that marketeers, you have only 4 years left of that lease and you will be out. .

    • That is really sad. There are a lot of people who will not be able to walk out to the Cavanbar site. The market will suffer for it and so will Byron.
      If it must be moved at all, the park lands along mainbeach seem more central and practical for markets.

  3. Perhaps he really is a “genernal” manager.
    Nobody is walking to Cavanbar!
    Cavanbar was a stupid place to put Cavanbar… stuck out in the middle of nowhere!
    The word “Trial” is so misused and abused. I think the Alchohol free zones in Lennox have been on ‘Trial’ for my adult daughter’s lifetime. The ‘Temporary’ measures introduced during the Olympics in 2000 are now permanent. These are just words to get things approved then make them permanent… They lie to the community knowing full well that people forget that they ever gave only temporary approval.

  4. To be honest there are much better options for market location than Butler St which hopefully will be available in 5 years.
    As a community we should be pushing the vision of the master plan which has wide agreement and acceptance in the community. This would see a revitalisation of the rail corridor and railway car park.
    Moving the markets into these spaces brings them into the heart of town, re prioritises the centre of town for pedestrians and will enhance the asthetics of what is a truely disgusting space at present.

  5. Sadly the monthly Byron Market is so huge in size, with only a small percentage of artisan products, it’s become a grubby, dusty event full of tourists feeding their faces and trying to be Bo Ho Hippie Hipsters
    Send all that commercial stuff out to Cavvanbah centre and keep the great stuff in Byron Please


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