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Byron Shire
June 1, 2023

Greens split over site for Byron Bay bus interchange

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

Chris Dobney

Greens Ballina MP Tamara Smith claims there has been a ‘lack of public consultation’ regarding state government plans to place a bus interchange at the site of the Byron markets.

‘I am appalled that our iconic market space in Butler Street is being replaced with a giant bus interchange.

‘It is up to the community and Byron Shire Council to tell government where the best location for a bus interchange is and that process of consultation simply has not occurred,’ Ms Smith said.

But Byron Shire Council’s Greens mayor Simon Richardson says there has been plenty of consultation and adds the markets are ‘iconic’ despite – rather than because of – their location.

Mayor Richardson said the relocation of the terminal was a key plank of the Byron Bay Masterplan, which is focussed on removing buses and heavy vehicles from Jonson Street.

Key feature

‘On what planet would you want to replace one of the key features of our Byron town, a designated and central space for the monthly Byron market that has been there for decades and a weekly farmers market, with a giant bus interchange? The former is a cultural and economic hub for locals and visitors alike and the latter is a giant bus shed.’

‘The community were told that the bus interchange would be built on the rail corridor and now without any community consultation we are being told that it is being built on the market site.

‘It is the community that needs to decide when an iconic, cultural and economic hub is being removed from its home of many decades, not the General Manager of Byron Shire Council. There are so many innovative ways to do bus terminals these days, just look at what the Queensland government is doing.

‘Losing an iconic public space and replacing it with a transport terminal does not seem innovative at all.’

‘Council should engage in thorough community consultation about the market site and about what happens along Butler Street, particularly given the phenomenal waste of ratepayer’s money in the recent protracted legal battle with the Butler Street residents.

‘With so few historic, iconic spaces left in Byron, Council should be looking at how we retain what we have and love. The idea that we have to lose a heritage neighbourhood and a well-loved community market space to make way for a bigger road, car spaces and a bus terminal seems to me a very sad day indeed,’ said Ms Smith.

Mayor responds

But Mayor Richardson told Echonetdaily there had been plenty of consultation as part of the Byron Bay Masterplan process, that Transport for NSW – which is funding the interchange –decided on the relocation site, and that there would be insufficient room on the railway reserve for buses to turn around ‘without significant land clearing’.

‘When we start talking about icons, I think when it comes to the Byron markets you need to be aware that what’s iconic about the Byron markets is what happens at the market, not where it’s placed,’ he said.

‘The Channon market’s location is iconic and the Bangalow market place is iconic – they’re gorgeous settings.

‘The Byron market is an amazingly wonderful market not because of the Butler Street Reserve but almost in spite of it.

‘It’s very hot, it’s very flat and open.

‘We are absolutely committed to supporting the market – even letting it grow if it can – but obviously Transport for NSW are going to plonk themselves there.

‘We’re working with all the market stakeholders to make sure any interruption is minor. ‘They’ve got a five-year-lease, so we aren’t looking to move them. If ultimately that site becomes more problematic we’re looking to move closer to town and make it an even better market.’ Cr Richardson said.

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  1. Given the events of last week at Railway Park, I would caution journalists and the public about any reference to the Byron Bay Masterplan Team (MPT) which does not include a current statement from the co-chairs or other delegated spokesperson from this community group (the MPT).

    As a member of the MPT, I know that this is a current and significant issue which the group and the council are working to resolve.

    As reader or journalist, I would also always ask which version of the MasterPlan itself is being cited. Remember the MasterPlan documents some in depth and advanced discussions about places dear to us all which are the starting point for continued planning discussion and decision making.

    So, dear reader, ask for the comments from the MPT and journalists everywhere, please ask the MPT. Let’s not assume that council staff, GM, councillors or the Mayor himself speak in the name of this group.

  2. Simon Richardson’s judgement and comittment to any kind of community amenity need to be seriously questioned.
    When it comes to Multi-national tech titans hollowing out communities and turning citizens into indentured tech-serfs with zero rights in their own town he shrugs his shoulders and effects a pose of complete impotence: “Nothing we can do”.

    Yet when it comes to destroying what is left of Byron’s iconic community assets he’s quite happy to advocate for Transport NSW to plonk a bus shed there.

    Piss poor.

  3. Just to remind everyone, the markets occupy the reserve one day a month and the farmers market, which is quite small, for a few hours on a Thursday morning. The rest of the time this paddock remains empty. It is actually a waste of a useable space. As well, Butler St Reserve was created with tailings from sand mining and is radioactive to a possibly toxic level. Why would you put a market there with food preparation, kids running around, people with no shoes and sand blowing about in the wind ? It is very hot in summer and has little to no shade. The market is iconic for sure, but there must be a better place to locate it. I say, build a bus interchange and a carpark there and get traffic, buses and heavy vehicles out of the CBD.

    • As a local who has lived in town for 9 years I agree with you Peter. This location is perfect for a bus station/car park. Im sure we can easily find a new (better) location for the markets. Anyone who thinks this is a bad idea is just being difficult.

  4. Its obvious the Great and powerful Mayor Simon Richardson is determined to get his Plaza in Johnson St no matter what or who gets in the way!!
    Coffs Harbour tried that and found it to be a killer of trade in the town centre and crime increased to the stage the Council reversed it and opened the road back up to vehicle traffic.
    To get the Bus station onto the Butler St reserve the Council has to complete the first stage of the Bypass to Somerset St, Millions $ for that.
    Railway park $500,000 and $200,000 of that being our money.
    Restoration work to the railway station and corridor for the TEMPORARY HOME FOR THE MARKETS $??? FOR THAT.
    The Mayor stated the Butler St site was flat and dusty with no trees, Imagine what the markets will be like on the railway line area, and or the proposed car parks at the Rails hotel and the car park behind the bakery and clothes shops which will be closed off on the First Sunday of the month if the markets go there, which was the Councils second offering to the markets stake holders on a walk around with Council to discuss a home for the Markets. Smells like another costly Cavanbah idea to me.

  5. Just when you think things couldn’t possibly get worse for locals in the ‘wonderful tourist destination’, now we have the threat of the iconic Byron Environment Center rotunda being shunted out to oblivion with the Butler St markets to follow to make way for an expensive bus terminal.

    Then there’s the ‘beautification’ of Railway Park, apparently funded by the state government who seem to have plenty of money for ‘Tourism Demand Driver Infrastructure’, which includes chopping down much-needed shade trees to make way for an outdoor eating area for someone’s cafe at the expense of public space!

    Where’s the state government funding for necessary infrastructure for long suffering locals?

    Butler St reserve is hot and bare, but that can be easily rectified with tree plantings and some landscaping. No need to destroy it with an ugly bus terminal and massive buses clogging up the place.

    Our so-called Green council needs to find its back bone (ditto our local state MP)and instead of allowing the state government to waste millions of taxpayers’ money on a very expensive beautification, town by-pass and bus terminal, council should be demanding the state government provide the train service we have needed for many years.

    There’s no need for anyone to be suffering shocking potholed roads or the abomminal traffic congestion to get into Byron. There’s no need for anyone to arrive in Byron (or Mullum, or Bangalow) by road when there’s a perfectly good train line and train station in the center of these towns.

    Too much taxpayers’ money is being wasted on useless infrastructure that benefits no one.

    • For one you cant dictate who can drive into town and who cant so need to cater for all. The markets are once a month and few hours each Thursday. Thats a waste. As a person who lives in town and drives Jonson street multiple times a day moving the bus station to the current market site is a great idea. Hopefully they can fit some car parks in there also. Why cant the markets be moved to a better location? Like when they do the beachfront market? this should be a permanent site. Removing the busses from Jonson street is a great idea. Hopefully they tear down the current bus shed as its a eye-sore. BYRON IS GOING TO CHANGE/EVOLVE! Like most Australian towns. Those who cant deal with it should simply LEAVE! You want to sip your favourite latte at your favourite cafe.. well guess what the owner of that (small) business wants to make some money and so they should. Only way to make more money is more trade. If you don’t like it move to mullum, bruns or bangalow. Until they start to grow and you start to complain again.. Then head to Kyogle. I for one want to see growth and jobs. BRING IT ON !!

  6. Byron Council has so far done virtually everything in its power to destroy Byron Bay, a once popular tourist destination now black listed as a ‘bad town’ by most overseas travelers. They have also done everything possible to drive the culture that made Byron Bay what it is and turn it into a cheap and ugly extension of the gold coast, void of any realness or alternate culture, so it is not surprising they would now be seeking to put the final nail in the coffin of what was once a truly beautiful and vibrant town by destroying the last area the community actual has for any real self expression. The problem with Byron, as with most of the country, is the Kakistocracy that holds the reigns of power in the corrupt institution euphemistically referred to as “government’ and their utter disregard for anything but scamming the people out of any pleasure in life

    • What a load of garbage Max. I have a business in Surfers Paradise and live in Byron Bay and I can tell you its not an extension of the Gold Coast. Byron is also not black listed. Where do you get such rubbish ideas from?? You should really think before you type. Byron is a beautiful town and is growing. GROWTH is a good thing. Why do you get to be the only one to enjoy the town?? why cant others?? If you cant handle change then you know what to do… pack your bags and move to another small boring town. We have plenty along the cost of Australia. Take your pick !!

  7. Whose responsibility is it that Butler Street has remained a “dustbowl”? The “dustbowl” that is Butler Street Reserve is easily rectified with a little imaginative landscaping. This is a question of duty of care, as pleas from community volunteers for help to improve the site started at least 9 years ago. We have literally no other recreationally zoned park space in Byron that can accommodate the size of our market, with over 400 ( or more) people’s livelihoods at risk.

  8. 1. Offering these schemes is like offering a new suit to a starving man. Its irrelevant. Until roads are sorted all else falls on deaf ears and hard hearts.
    2. BEC was a last bastion oficonic colour associated with the true Byron ethos. That’s right chuck it out. I distrust any modern city planners definition of ‘beautification’. Over many families dead bodies will we allow those trees to be removed. Talk about hot My Mayor. Do you know how many huge trees have been removed by a process of attrition every time there’s a major development? ?? Tress cool a space. Removal and replacement with tin and concrete heats.
    3. Bus Terminal needs to be small. Only 3 buses max are present at one time. Bus drivers font need turnaround space. Who said that?
    Sure they go around the block at the moment. So all is needed is drive in drive straight out space. I suggest Council Land …the Railway Pub carpark just there south side of Pub. Its un maintained forever and a day. A real dustbowl if want to talk of such. Rich Mr Mooney once pub proprietor could have cleaned up the park he profited from but no. Its Councils job. Plenty of room used up as car parking space. Between pub and back of night club. Bookings are done online. Baggage storage stays the same. Not far for the kids to walk . Shuttles from accommodation providers still park same spots. And build a decent aircon closed in space for kids to wait. It doesn’t need to be big.I see the numbers. I live there. I catch Greyhounds myself.
    We can’t keep expanding to cater for growing numbers. Keep the town small. If they want to come they got to deal with the traffic ..first in best dressed…until we can employ the best solutionit’s who design green spaces. Not the dinosaurs we use who turn out ‘MODERN’ ugly buildings and concrete spaces in our cities.
    4. You will never get Oz tourists to use trains. They didn’t when there was one. Backpackers did. But Oz families will not carry beach towels and balls on trains.
    They want their car.
    5. Market has to be walking distance from town . Not just hostel youth but all tourists wander tween beach and market and accommodation. The shuttle system out to Cavanbah Centre could never cater for the numbers. Have you seen the numbers pour in to both market entrances ?
    Granted they are not all from town . Daytrippers from Goldy and surrounds since new highway reduced travel time.
    But what’s wrong with gridlock traffic? People who don’t accept it as a reality of coming here won’t come back. Those who relax and handle it just get on with life.
    We can’t keep changing us or we will die as a town and become wall to wall tourist accommodations like Gold Coast. So the mantra has been for many years. But it’s true. Look at the latest ugly developments across the road from the Short Stop called buildings to contain humans. If that is modern design it is not beautiful. Who allowed Woolworthss to take over the petrol there? Who allowed those shacks on the verge of the bush. On same side as W petrol. So close to the road it must be illegal. Who can sleep with traffic so close. Why not further back towards the back of the space. Why there at all. Cramming things into every bit of space. Was that meant to be affordable housing? I missed that one.
    6. So cos of radiation from tailings it’s not healthy for market humans but hey its ok for transit centre humans. No mention of cleaning it up. That was a laughable comment.
    7. Reduce car spaces everywhere. Let pple walk more. Put in bike racks with bikes ofcourse like other places do more and more. Pay system. Its a small town.
    Coffs Hbr was great with the mall and sounshell for lunchtime concerts and huge trees and birdie singing. You wouldn’t have known you were 50 metres or 100 metres from Highway 1. The shopkeepers winge about anything. It was an economic downturn. People shopped more leisurely with a mall. It was the new Shopping Centre that killed the litte guys. Council should not have caved in to them. I loved that Mall.

  9. As the person who organised the May 2016 tree planting at Butler St Reserve, and has spent countless hours down there keeping them alive during the long dry spell, protecting them from vandals, over-zealous council whipper snippers and worst of all stallholder vehicles, I can tell you there’s a lot of ill-informed bollocks written above. Butler St Reserve is a tip. Dig down 400mm and you hit rubbish. Most of the Reserve is covered with a thin layer of roadbase, sand and blue metal dust, and when it rains, metre-wide sinkholes open up on a regular basis. This is not an easy site to landscape, and only the hardiest trees survive. I’ve replaced dozens that have died, and many trees have died from previous planting attempts as well.

    I agree entirely with the mayor that it is the markets that are iconic, not the site. There are many good reasons why Butler St Reserve is better suited as a car park and bus station — it keeps the tourist buses and several hundred cars out of town. The railway corridor precinct has the potential to be a far more interesting market site, with many mature trees, several heritage buildings, and more interesting spaces. It should at least be considered. It should be given a chance. Of course there will challenges and difficulties with access, but to dismiss it without even seeing a sketch of a market layout seems unreasonably close-minded. Please, can we at least see what’s on offer before rejecting it?

    • I agree with what you say about the site, David. Butler St is not a nice spot for the Market really. As far as I understand about the railway lines though is that the trees there are going to be removed to make space for the bypass. I went to a meeting about all this about 18 months ago with Simon, Paul, stallholders and the Community Centre. My feeling then was that we weren’t really important. I wrote to all Councillors after as I was shocked.. One of the suggestions then was to put us on the Soccer Grounds in town. That clearly indicated to me that there was no concept of our needs or impact. Right now I only can hope that there is a bit more clarity about what it takes to run a Market somewhere. In my eyes the clocks are ticking as apparently we have to leave by March and whatever grounds will take preparation and money. In my eyes it would be nice to be a feature beautifully laid out with shady leisure areas. Good for everyone. I also like to point out that our stall fees permit the Community Centre to help out many people in need. Not to mention the revenue us Stallholders raise and spent back in local businesses. I hope we are part of the Master plan. Are we??

      • Hi Nicole, As far as I know, no trees are going to be removed in the railway corridor for the bypass. The bypass runs along Butler St, then south through the wetlands, coming out near Mitre 10. I’d like to see some trees planted in the corridor though!

        I agree the rec grounds are not a good location for the markets. There’s very little parking there, market patrons coming from the west have to drive through the middle of town to get there, and you can’t use the playing fields for a market because it destroys the playing surface.

        What we all need to see is a plan for a market site in and around Railway Park, the railway corridor and the adjacent car parks.

        The clock is ticking now because the state government decided to come through on a 2015 election promise and fund the new bus station, and someone — no-one seems to know who — decided to put it at the northern end of Butler St Reserve.

        • Thanks David. I totally agree with what you say. I would be very happy to have a look at the plans for this, hopefully they’ll be around rather sooner than later. As usual there are a million ideas around and lots of people following their ideologies. It can throw the spanner in the works and at this stage we need to get on with it. I hope it’s not a temporary solution. It could be an absolute feature provided everyone is willing to make it work and the necessary funds are available. Are you part of the Masterplan committee or know anyone who is?

          • Yep, I’m on the Masterplan committee but that doesn’t mean I know any more than you do. That was illustrated last week with the Railway Park fiasco.


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