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Byron Shire
February 4, 2023

NSW Govt’s sell-off of Byron Bay rail corridor land

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Transport for NSW has confirmed that it is ‘in discussions’ to sell a 611sqm parcel of rail corridor behind the Wollongbar Motel on Shirley Street, Byron Bay, to developer Wollongbar Properties.

According to the development application (DA), the developer has been granted preliminary approval from Byron Council for a 17-unit luxury apartment complex on the site.

Within the DA, correspondence shows that Transport for NSW and the developer have settled on a price of $465,000 for the public land, and that the government authority is ready to go ahead with the sale.

Wollongbar Properties was not available for comment when contacted by The Echo.

However, it is understood the purchase of the rail corridor land is needed to ensure that the apartment development remains under the maximum 60 per cent floor space ratio for the site.

The pending sale of the rail corridor land was revealed in a second DA, lodged with Council on November 29. This DA also sets out an expansion of the proposed development to include an extra storey containing two more units.

The Echo understands such a sale will result in it being very difficult for future governments to reverse this decision, owing to the cost and legal ramifications of reacquiring the land. It will also limit the potential use of the corridor for public use such an extended park, cycle path or walking track.

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    • Has nothing to do with it because there is a train running on that section of track and there has been no objection to having a bike trail next to it as the corridor is wide enough for both there.

  1. The Development Application (DA) 10.2017..678.1 for this development is available on the Byron Council’s website at URL: https://databox-apps.opaas.net.au/shares/folder/c42d4d5fa9b1f9/ . I could not from the description and plans provided – the plans show the railway land and the line, but not the boundaries and width of the gazetted rail corridor – nor from the commentary of the Town Planner, determine the extent to which the acquisition of the railway land will impact on potential use of the corridor for public use such an extended park, cycle path or walking track.

    As the proposed rail trail is flagged in the Shire Council’s own Byron Line proposal, the lack of information and comment on how it might impact is a telling statement of the Council’s lack of real interest in active transport. I ask the Council to examine the proposal and adjacent corridor land and advise the public will it limit any potential rail trail, and limit the amenity on the trail for cyclists and walkers..

  2. This was the, all too obvious,reasoning behind the “horsy trail”.
    Works every time,get some fools behind the idea and while they’re not looking, flog it to the developers ! This is some of the most valuable real-estate in the country ,who would want to wast it on public infrastructure ? When is something going to be done about these crooked,foreign,self-seeking politicians at all levels of government ? Do we really have to HAVE the ‘ revolution ‘ ?
    Merry XMAS to all the dupes out there.

    • What may very well have worked, Ken is the old divide and conquer routine, But obviously it was all the fault of the deluded rail trail proponents. Everybody knows they provided the perfect cover.

    • If by the “horsy trail” you mean the rail trail, there is certainly no intention to build that trail with a view to some future real estate grab. Why on earth would anyone who is after what is indeed valuable real estate, try and put on it trail that all the evidence from other trails in Australia shows will be of continuing and growing popularity? The best strategy for anyone after the real estate, would be to denigrate the rail trail ensuring nothing is done with the corridor, and support NSW Farmers in its strategy to have parts of disused corridors adjoining farms passed to those farmers (as it is openly doing for the New England corridor). That would break up the continuity of the corridor leaving the urban parts ripe for sale. Based on the experience in places like Otago and Wangaratta, a rail trail creates a community of support across the political spectrum of businesses, employees and their families, and cyclists, and they would join rail buffs in strongly opposing any change to the law that would be needed to sell off the corridor, blocking development for the foreseeable future.
      Some rail buffs have tried to allude to “sell-off” conspiracy theories on the Rail Trail Facebook site, but when challenged to support their allegations they back off – they have no evidence to support their fabrications. Similarly the rail buff when challenged have never provided any legal opinion to support their inaccurate interpretation that the rail trail amendment to the Transport Act – an amendment that was supported by Labor and the Greens – will allow a sell off. In line with my letter above it is high time discussion about the corridor is properly informed, and high time to stop the scare-mongering and the un-evidenced conspiracy theories.

      • Well Peter !
        Perhaps it’s time to look at the facts ,
        “Transport for NSW has confirmed that it is ‘in discussions’”
        Just gives a little credence to the ‘ “sell-off” conspiracy theories’, don’t it Pete ? by the way your statement “stop the scare-mongering and the un-evidenced conspiracy theories.” is essentially correct because, face the facts , it seems it’s a done deal and there will be no horsy trail……
        or ongoing essential transport infrastructure.
        Was it good for you too peter ? Cheers G”)

        • The article is about selling off railway land that is not part of the designated corridor, Ken. Although the boundaries are unclear in the da application, the rail corridor is shown separately, and I trust Angie’s assurance above is correct: that there remains room for the current train and for any rail trail beside it. It does not in anyway provide evidence that the intention of the rail trail is to encourage a sell off. As I note above that would be a stupid way to try and get the land as a rail trail will tie up the corridor indefinitely.

  3. Will this impact the already running Elements train? Is it a scam so the developer can sell it at an enormous increase to the elements group? the whole deal sounds really dodgey with nothing about this deal seeming right! Isn’t $465,000 too little for such an important piece of land? Doesn’ the railway own the land not transport NSW? or are they one and the same? this needs much more investigation!!

  4. Of all the possible uses for which such a precious parcel of land could be preserved, what would be more predictable than that it would end up permanently and irretrievably lost to the community, and put in the hands of a big developer, who will use it to become vastly more wealthy than he already is. Capitalism at work to benefit capitalists. That’s what capitalism is for.

  5. Was this land put up for public
    sale? was this a backdoor deal?It seems to me there is a lot of corruption going on in Byron and the Gold Coast by counsellors, by mayors, by government officials who have been elected to serve the people…not just the people with money, who want to make more money….Truthfully, I think all would be well served to remember the Native American concept. Think about your actions for the next seven generations….

  6. Go and check the NSW government SIX maps site and you will notice there has been sell offs of other parts of the railway corridor along the Shirley St and Cavanbah St area. Some of the landowners lease land from Transport NSW to give them a bigger backyard . There is a section of the railway land at southern Jonson St that will also (or may have already ) been sold off to the adjacent landholder/s. The First Sun Caravan Park has camp sites and even a road on the railway land . Being an ‘out of service’ line still requires buildings to comply with railway corridor construction rules in case an active train network is reinstated. . http://www.rms.nsw.gov.au/documents/projects/guideto-infrastructure-development-near-rail-corridors-busy-roads.pdf
    Slowing down Greenfield development like West Byron is achieved by increasing density within the existing town footprint by using infill development ie granny flats or adding extra storeys (but keeping within the existing height limits). TODs (Transit Oriented Development) is perfect along railway corridors and slows down the urban sprawl but as can been seen between Brisbane and Gold Coast the railway line has given rise to continuous housing development. The Mbah to Casino railway corridor should also have housing subdivisions built close by for getting people out of cars .
    Conclusion- Increase density within existing town footprints or allow urban sprawl with land releases like West Byron ?

  7. Hang on a minute, I want to buy that land so I can donate it back to the community! How come it wasn’t thrown open to public sale? Who is this developer? They must have the ear of government that is for sure.

    How come the council has a “preliminary approval” on this block?

    By god I’m sick of developers and governments including local councils doing back door deals with land that belongs to nobody and therefore everybody.

    Stop focussing on the rail trail and instead zone in on the problem ie the back room sell off of public land, and the local council preliminary approval. This should have been either thrown open for public debate or advertised for sale before anything else happened.

  8. Good news for the rail trail. NSW Govt obviously has no intention of putting rail back on the track. This hopefully means those pro-rail enthusiasts (the small minority), can now support a rail trail.


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