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December 6, 2021

Byron Bay developer clarifies four-storey DA

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Plans for the southern end of Jonson Street include two-level parking basement for 120 cars, 26 serviced apartments, 24 residential units, a 65-place childcare centre, shops and restaurant.

Hans Lovejoy

Further to last week’s report of a high density development proposed on the corner block at the end of Jonson Street opposite Byron Music, developer Graham Dunn says that the proposed height of his development ‘complies with the current height of building for the B2 Town Centre zone of 11.5 metres.’

‘The height of the building is not taller than some other existing developments,’ he says. ‘For example, the Butter Factory apartments across the street are 11.5m.’

‘The fourth storey is set back and barely visible from the street. The buildings are respectful of the Byron streetscape; the designers integrated significant gardens and planting to reduce the visual structure.

‘The design was directly in response to the need for more permanent rental accommodation in Byron Bay and also the need for more child care.’

Also Mr Dunn says the 24 shops as reported last week are ‘shop top houses’ which would be ‘permanent longterm residential accommodation.’

He says, ‘There are two shops and one restaurant on the ground floor. Plus there is a child care centre on the ground floor.’

Additionally, Mr Dunn has clarified that the estimated cost is $23.18m, not $21m as written on the DA.

The Echo asked Mr Dunn, ‘Would you consider having this DA assessed by Byron Shire Council instead of the Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP) by reducing the capital investment to below $20m?’

He replied, ‘I would love it if the project were going to cost less than $20m to build; it would save us a lot of money. However, the quantity surveyor’s report states that it will cost $23,186,495. This is the construction cost value on which we paid our Development Application fees.’

Mr Dunn also maintains he told the Byron Bay Masterplan leadership team of his pecuniary interest with the development when joining the group and wrote his interest in his application form to the group.

Bird’s eye view of the proposed development at the southern end of Jonson Street.

Masterplan support

Supporting Mr Dunn, fellow member of the Byron Bay masterplan team, Byron Rogers, posted on the Support our Masterplan Byron Bay Facebook page that he ‘was at the meeting where Graham Dunn introduced himself and explained that he was a developer, that he was planning to develop this site and that he was interested in getting feedback from the community about it.’

Additionally another leadership team member, Geoff Bensley, supported Mr Dunn’s good character on The Echo’s online story.

He wrote, ‘Graham has lived here for over 25 years and has a wonderful partner who has lived in Byron Bay longer than me, ie 52 years. I would have objected to having rabid Greenies and rabid developers on the MPLT, Graham is in between these two groups! Without developers we wouldn’t have Suffolk Park, Byron Hills, Baywood Chase or Parkway Drive area. Thanks to Graham for being a volunteer and a philanthropist in our town.’

Another masterplan leadership team member David Michie wrote on The Echo’s online story that while he didn’t hear Mr Dunn mention his involvement in the Jonson Street development when he joined the leadership team… ‘another member of the masterplan team does recall Graham disclosing his interest in the Jonson Street development at the first meeting and I’m happy to accept that.’

The Echo understands that no minutes of past masterplan meetings were recorded, yet a Council staff member has now been assigned to the group to help facilitate public communication. 


Mr Dunn was also keen to point to the sustainable components of his proposal.

‘The building will contain a commercial-scale photovoltaic (solar system) on the roof to provide up to 20kW of peak power. This energy will be stored in batteries in the building and the energy will power multiple areas including common areas, lifts and basement exhaust.

‘We think that the most interesting use of this energy will be the powering of electric cars and electric bicycles. The electric-car charging station is in line with the Byron Shire, Tweed and Ballina Councils’ Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Strategy, which has the aim of promoting regional uptake of electric vehicles to business and the community.’

South Jonson St

While the Byron Bay Town Centre Masterplan recommends community wishes that the CBD remain at three storeys, page 69 suggests the Jonson Street South precinct be ‘incrementally transformed’ into a mixed-use district that supports medium-density living and local business.’

It reads, ‘By achieving this outcome, a greater population of residents and workers can be located within walking distance of the town centre core.

In addition, the economic vibrancy of the town centre core can be better concentrated in and around the town centre core ensuring a more compact and walkable town centre environment.’

Key actions include aiming ‘to increase the centre’s residential offering through accommodating a diverse array of dwelling types supporting the centre’s varying demographic.’

The masterplan also suggests removing the ‘incentive for local retail-dominant developments in this precinct through amending the LEP landuse zoning to a mixed- use zoning.’ 

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  1. My problem is not that Mr Dunn is on the MasterPlan committee. And all great – he’s “local” etc. But let’s be honest here. This development is a massive development of this site. In other words TOO BIG. If Mr Dunn is not a “rabid developer” (Geoff Bensley’s term) I just don’t know what else to call him. I understand the objectives for this end of Johnson Street, and of course there will be development and changes, no problem there. I fully agree we need good developers but ‘good developers’ are also sensitive developers. They are not just going for return on investment or making a bundle. They take into consideration the character and visual amenity of ‘place’. They consider the needs of the community, not just in terms of ‘child care’, accommodation or retail but in terms of the long-term character and setting – in this case a (hopefully laid back) subtropical, beachside town. Most of Byron is low rise and low density. Good developers have the opportunity to ‘contribute’ to the town’s design, to enhance and capture the essence of the town. The idea of residential units within walking distance to the centre of town is fine, but this tall WALL of units, 4 stories, 120 car spaces, over 50 apartments (some permanent, some holiday) – This is an overdevelopment of the site – and contributes nothing to the main street of a beautiful and much loved town.

  2. What a top bloke!
    It’s not about making money it’s about providing more permanent rental and childcare.
    I am sure the permanent rentals will also be affordable.

  3. Look, none of you naysayers has any vision for the future. It’s going to have solar panels and a charge station! Doesn’t that override any other consideration?

    • The lack of affordable housing in the Bay is a direct result of the sort of opposition we read here to higher density development. That opposition started in the early sixties: the Byron Shire was one of the first areas where objections to multi-story development and other ways of expanding the town took hold. Its growth from a sleepy village of a couple of thousand people occurred in spite of that resistance, and the restraints to growth helped it remain an attractive and so increasingly expensive piece of coastal real estate. Just as the character of the Bay was radically changed by newcomers with alternative views in the sixties and seventies, it is now being changed by those sufficiently monied to buy into its high value property. I have no problem with those who continue to resist unbridled growth in our area, but we should recognise that developments like this are a result and not a cause of the high price of housing. In a part of Australia where the word “karma” was first thrown around, the irony is sweet!

  4. Oh and Graham did some great developments in Noosa back in the day when Noosa was a sleepy town so he knows whats hes doing so leave him alone.
    Imagine in 10 years we won’t need to use sunscreen when the shadows are on the beach from the buildings are cast so win win for everyone.
    True visionary.


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