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August 2, 2021

‘Consultation lacking’ on Byron Bay’s Railway Park masterplan project

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An image from the Byron Bay master plan, which shows a possible redevelopment of Railway Park. (supplied)

Plans for an ‘informal amphitheatre’ in Railway Park in Byron’s CBD, along with other improvements, will be tabled at this Thursday’s Byron Shire Council meeting.

Along with additional seating, parking would be reduced in front of the railway station, while the children’s park would be removed and the existing toilets relocated to the north western entrance area.

Paved areas would also be created that ‘promote gathering while maintaining tree health.’ 

BEC communicating with the community in Railway Park. Their eviction was originally slated for December 13. Photo supplied.

No consultation

Yet the notice of motion (NoM) to endorse the ‘Railway Square Landscape Concept Plan’ by Greens mayor Simon Richardson has been overshadowed again with claims of improper process and lack of consultation.

Managers of the Byron Environment Centre (BEC) rotunda in the park are angry that the mayor’s NoM claims BEC consultation ‘has also been undertaken.’

And within the maps provided by the mayor in the agenda, it states that ‘consultation is required for the possible relocation [of the BEC rotunda] within the park’.

BEC members Nino MacDonald and John Lazarus told The Echo they ‘met in good faith with council last Thursday but were not responded to with good faith in turn.’

‘Before meeting with BEC, the council had already printed up Thursday’s council agenda. It included a report on development in Railway Park and stated that consultation with BEC had informed the report. Nothing could be further from the truth. The BEC has not been consulted with on the Railway Park development proposal, which will come before the council on Thursday.

‘BEC considers, and has advised the council in the past, that any development of Railway Park should go through a plan-of-management process to facilitate broad community input. It is unfortunate that [as] the first step to resolve issues between BEC and the council, that BEC has had to lodge a complaint to force the removal of a reference to the BEC from next Thursday’s Ordinary Meeting’s Motion concerning the development of Railway Park.’

Not discussed

And while the mayor claims in his NoM that ‘The design has been discussed and is supported by the Byron Bay Town Centre Master Plan Leadership Team,’ leadership team member Dr Mary Gardner told The Echo that they did not discuss the future of the rotunda at last week’s meeting.

In reply, Cr Richardson said the rotunda, ‘will not move if the BEC wish for it to remain where it is.’

But that assurance have not been accepted by Mr Lazarus.

He said, ‘The BEC has not been consulted on this park plan, and does not endorse this plan, and considers the masterplan process as a developer’s Trojan Horse that has blindsided the community and the good community members of the masterplan committee.’

Mr Lazarus ends with, ‘Rescind the adoption of the masterplan and bring back democracy to Byron Shire Council.’

The rush to get started on the project could be owing to ‘the requirement of the NSW Government Tourism Demand Driver Infrastructure program’, where ‘moneys for the first stage of the works [must] be expended by April 20, 2018.’ 

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