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.
‘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.
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.