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Byron Shire
December 2, 2021

Suburb, resort or religious compound for Tyagarah?

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The view from the top of 29 Buckleys Road, Tyagarah. Photo Max Walls Real Estate
The view from the top of 29 Buckleys Road, Tyagarah. Photo Max Walls Real Estate

Chris Dobney

Tyagarah landowner Michael Hunter is testing the market by placing his landmark Buckleys Road property for sale with Sydney real estate firm Max Walls.

Currently Mr Hunter holds a DA that would allow the development of a holiday park with 22 holiday cabins, five dwellings, two camping grounds, a conference centre, a swimming pool and a restaurant/café/general store.

But last year, in association with Ballina-based town planners Ardill Payne, he put before council a much more substantial proposal for a mini-suburb that would have seen ‘between 100 and 200’ home sites created, according to planner Dwayne Roberts.

The site was included in Byron Shire’s draft Rural Land Use Strategy, initially approved by the outgoing council, prompting a snap protest by Tyagarah residents during the election campaign.

But after the development’s prime advocate, Cr Rose Wanchap, failed to be re-elected the new Greens-led council withdrew its approval.

Mr Roberts told Echonetdaily he was still ‘in discussions’ with the new council about the plan.

In response to rumours that Mr Hunter was seeking to have the development decided by the state government as a ‘state significant’ project, Mr Roberts said, ‘Ardill Payne have not been engaged to undertake any representations to the state government.’

Property agent Anthony Walls told Echonetdaily the property’s biggest attraction was its elevation and seclusion.

‘We’ve had families from Melbourne wanting to land-bank it and an overseas religious group looking at it for a place of worship and education.

He said the religious organisation was ‘the most aggressive’ bidder so far and ‘a bottomless pit of money.’

While not wishing to name the religious group, Mr Walls said they had built already in Minnesota (USA) and Bendigo (Victoria).

He added that he had also had interest from Chinese investors and a consortium wishing to turn the property into an eco-resort.

Apart from the 21 hectares required for the development, Mr Roberts said, ‘ultimately the client would like to protect all existing native vegetation on the property,’ adding, ‘he has currently spent in excess of $500,000 to make the property weed/camphor free.’

‘The client would like to rezone 19ha of the 120ha to R2 and to protect the remaining 101ha for wildlife purposes. He would also like to extend the train line to the property from Elements, provide a park and ride car park and to provide some affordable housing,’ he said.

But Echonetdaily understands that Byron Bay Railroad Company, which is set to operate the new solar train between the Bay and Elements Resort has no plans to extend the line any further.

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