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Byron Shire
May 26, 2022

Byron Council takes action against café

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Habitat car park on a ‘typical’ Saturday night. Photo David Dixon

Chris Dobney

Byron Shire Council is taking compliance action against the popular Barrio café in Bayshore Drive after ongoing complaints from neighbours that it is noisy and operating outside the terms of its DA (development application).

Echonetdaily understands the venue’s owners have been served with a Penalty Infringement Notice.

Not a canteen

Barrio was approved as a ‘canteen’ for workers and residents of the still incomplete Habitat development on Bayshore Drive but neighbour Dave Dixon says the number of cars parked outside the venue in the evenings belies this status.

Mr Dixon told Echonetdaily, ‘Barrio was only approved as a low-key “canteen” but has been operating as a fully-fledged restaurant less than 50 metres from homes since they opened in December 2017.’

Council officers met with Habitat developer Brandon Saul in January over excessive noise generated by Barrio’s exhaust fans, which engineers are still trying to determine how to fix.

Then, late last month, neighbours complained about patron noise at night – and Barrio management responded by closing the doors to the café at 10pm.

But neighbours said this did little to improve their situation, as there are large plate glass windows facing directly onto Bayshore Drive.

At the time Barrio’s owner/manager Dan Wyllie told Echonetdaily the café averaged 120-150 patrons a night but Mr Dixon says this proves it is ‘anything but a low key canteen for locals’.

‘At present, there are only a dozen or so businesses operating at Habitat (and some of these are temporary, summer “pop-up” shops) and only about 20 completed dwellings.

‘This is an insufficient customer base to underpin such buoyant patron numbers and such an elaborate “canteen”,’ he said.

Out of area patrons

Mr Dixon said that on the night of Saturday, January 27, at 7.45pm, for example, ‘there were about 50 cars in the Habitat car park’.

‘Barrio was the only business open at the time suggesting the cars belonged to restaurant goers,’ he said.

Mr Dixon also raised the issue of Barrio’s application for a night-time liquor licence, which he said could only exacerbate the issue.

A Byron Shire Council spokesperson told Echonetdaily, ‘staff have met with the owner of Habitat, the development where Barrio is located, and their planning consultant to discuss a range of matters including complaints about noise and parking.’

‘Council has already commenced compliance action in relation to noise and development consent conditions,’ she said.

Shannon Burt, the council’s sustainable environment and economy director, said she was ‘not in a position to make a public statement about Barrio’s application for a liquor licence because it is a matter for the Office of Liquor & Gaming to determine.’

‘Council staff are now working with Barrio to resolve issues that are affecting people who live nearby, and in the meantime will continue to monitor the premises,’ Ms Burt said.

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  1. What a bunch of boring suburban farts the residence of Sunrise have become. I remember the days when the drumming became a bit unbearable and we would have killed for some decent nightlife and somewhere to eat.

    • I can’t remember the drumming Lyndsay and I have lived here in Sunrise for quite some time and at the complex opposite the Barrio for well over 10 years. What I do remember though, is those boring idealistic days of sunset walks and looking onto Wollumbin at the exact spot where the Barrio is now situated. Another thing that I remember…..I am starting to sound like a boring fart…are two years of heavy duty construction, starting early each morning and even sometimes on Saturday, lorries and trucks kicking up dust into our home on their journey along Bayshore drive past our place not only to Habitat but down to Bistrot & Elements. I feel much compassion for those still living at the complex and their stories of how distressing it is to no longer be able to sleep with windows open (especially in this summer heat) The constant noise of patrons till late and the continual sounds of machinery especially in the dead of the night is unbearable…..but the Barrio asking for a liquor licence without the noise factor being rectified as yet…..really takes the cake

  2. Hi Lyndsay.

    I’m not a boring suburban fart just because I don’t want this 50 metres from my home : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1FXEU94Y76E

    It’s not fair for Barrio to be approved as a mere canteen for people who live and work at Habitat and to then start up a loud, full-on destination restaurant.

    Habitat is a 4 or 5 HECTARE site. They did not have to put this next to my house!

  3. This has nothing to do with Barrio operating it’s business and everything to do with it’s approval in the first place.
    Given it’s location, size and design, they were never going to be able to control whether or not it was a canteen or a full restaurant. They’re not exactly going to ask for proof of Habitat residency at the counter!
    Perhaps they should have approved it to go at the back of the complex instead of right on the road.

  4. Barrio owners have shown little regard for their close neighbours who live directly across the road. Habitat’s Brandon Saul got the design for the “canteen” wrong. It should have been placed toward the back of the development. Council are taking their time enforcing the D.A. There is no way the approval should have been considered. What a total farce this is!!

  5. If the occupants of this building were operating as the space was originally intended and approved (i.e. ‘that it is generally to be used to service the residents/workers within the development and shall only be open for trade during the same hours as the adjacent commercial buildings.” – ORIGINAL DA), there would be no noise problems, no complaints, and no issue.

  6. Im probably the closest resident to Barrio as my back garden is across the road from the venue. Sure its got some noise coming from it, but being a realist and not a whiny individual, ill take the ambient sounds of people having a good time out drinking than my last neighbours kids shouting and swearing at their parents any day.
    If you want peace and quiet, why dont people live in the bush or in suburbia, not the roads that will develop in Byron to inhabit venues such as Barrio. Home owners should be thanking them for boosting their capital growth and renters should be looking elsewhere.

  7. Get over it, its Byron. Word of mouth travels fast and being a local myself like many others, am excited to have a new restaurant out of the centre of Byron where it’s flocked by tourists every day. You can’t expect to stop people from going there just because they don’t live or work there. I’ve never heard of anything so ridiculous. You should support someone thats trying to make an honest living and being part of the community. My partner and I had the pleasure of eating lunch there the other day as we ARE locals and our family recommended it to us. We wandered through the shops afterwards, because after all, that’s what a shopping area is all about….for everyone to enjoy ALL the amenities!!!

  8. The noise from Barrio is an infringement of the NSW Protection of the Environment Operations Act (Noise) 1997. The owners are breaking the law. They deserved a PIN. If they continue then they will end up in the Land and Environment Court.

  9. This is the town full of complain-heads. People are most of them live from the government but really active in complaining again anyone or any business. I think this town is what it is now because of tourist and all the people spending money there. Otherwise it would be another small town next to the beach.

  10. Barrio is owned by local families who care about our region. Who care about community. Who are keen to create a space for locals to gather, eat and relax in the Industrial Estate of Byron. Away from the busy centre of town; offering an ambient alternative to pubs/pokies/heaving clubs and rowdy joints. Barrio is about embracing the local folk, bringing delicious and affordable food to the people of the region. It is owned by young families who have lived and worked in the Shire, who truly care about this place. When you visit Barrio, you will enjoy hearty hospitality and be warmly welcomed, qualities that, as a region, we surely want to encourage and reflect.
    Barrio is a fabulous new addition for us locals and in these times, why don’t we support our unique community and celebrate the opportunities to gather together and connect?

  11. I agree with the comment from This is Doug: “if you want peace and quiet why don’t people live in the bush..”

    It does seem rather ludicrous to complain about noise whilst living on Bayshore Drive, the major artery of the industrial estate, leading to the IGA supermarket and other shops, the resort Elements, the Sun Bistro and to the thriving cultural and business hub that is the Estate.
    Let’s move forward oh wondrous Byron and acknowledge that eateries and spaces for locals to meet, converse and feel connected is surely what our future is all about. As an aside – have you read the statistics about mobile device dependency and the subsequent growing levels of depression and isolation caused by our reliance on this technology as a society? What about the high number of cases of sexual violence against women in the shire? How about domestic violence in our towns?
    Let’s put this into perspective. Any comfortable communal space that offers a chance to come together as neighbours, as people who live in this beautiful part of the world, surely is positive.
    Could we start to think more broadly and more expansively rather than holding onto one man’s self-oriented myopic view of progress?

    • A “comfortable communal space” is not positive if one section of the community benefits while others suffer.

      A Development Application (DA) is an agreement with the community about what can and cannot be done on a site. The DA for the space occupied by Barrio says they should be a quiet canteen.

      Barrio need to contain the noise from their customers at night and not impose it on their neighbours.

  12. Barrio is owned by local families who care about our region. Who care about community. Who are keen to create a space for locals to gather, eat and relax in the Industrial Estate of Byron. Away from the busy centre of town; offering an ambient alternative to pubs/pokies/heaving clubs and rowdy joints. Barrio is about embracing the local folk, bringing delicious and affordable food to the people of the region. It is owned by young families who have lived and worked in the Shire, who truly care about this place. If you visit Barrio, you will enjoy warm hospitality and be welcomed (sadly, sometimes a too-rare experience these days)
    Barrio is a fabulous new addition for us locals and in these times, why don’t we support our community and celebrate the opportunities to gather together and connect?

  13. Barrio has bought a welcome addition to this end of town. I do feel that as locals we need to embrace this opportunity to have such a welcoming and wonderful place we can call our own whilst also having the space to share it with the visitors that come to town. Bayshore Drive is and will increasingly become the Main Street of the Arts and Industry Estate and it is inevitable (sadly in some ways) that change will happen. There would have been ample opportunities for local residents to make objections during the DA process however the scene is set now so why not head on over and join in the fun rather than complaining?
    Emily is right in saying Barrio is owned by local families and it is supporting employment and conscious healthy alternatives – they do care about this community and are very active in trying to address issues and contribute strongly to positive solutions in the region. I love going to Barrio for a meal, a catch up with friends and feeling its also a very safe space for the kids to have a run around in. Im sorry that people in surrounding residential areas are not equally embracing such a great addition to the neighbourhood.

  14. Emily, I wish the owners also cared about the community they just moved into. They have been aware of the impact of their patron noise on their new neighbours since Dec 29th 2017 and have done nothing to stop it. I am tired of being assaulted by the noise. It invades every area of my home and disrupts my sleep. I, too, value community and places to gather and connect, but not when it comes at the expense of others. Would you, or the caring young owners, seriously put up with your private living space being filled with the din of up to 150 patrons at night? Barrios actions and Barrios values are totally inconsistent. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1FXEU94Y76E

  15. The situation as I understand it: A restaurant/bar with loud night time patron noise sets up in a residential area and starts operating outside of the restrictions of its DA. This results in disturbance and distress to pre-existing residents just 50 metres away. The business continues to operate in this manner with full awareness of the harm being caused. After two months of resident suffering, the business is issued with a Penalty Infringement Notice for operating outside of the restrictions in the DA. The business continues to operate in this manner. Residents continue to suffer.

  16. M, The residential section of Bayshore Drive used to be a peaceful neighbourhood, and still is on the evenings when Barrio are not trading. Connection and community are certainly what the future is all about. In broader terms, we all want a more ethical/morally advanced society in which socially responsible businesses are integral. A Development Application contains regulations designed to prevent harm being caused to other members of society. Council are enforcing the breaches of these regulations. A quiet, comfortable place to gather and connect, which doesn’t negatively impact others, sounds wonderful. But this is a totally inappropriate location for a noisy night time bar and restaurant. I believe a more empathic society would also be seen as a sign of progress.

  17. Firstly, the habitat development itself is world class and could have been developed into something a lot worse. Barrio itself blends effortlessly into the development and has created a fantastic meeting place for friends and foodies. As I understand it, the owners are local and have a thorough grasp on the strong sense of community in our region. Its obvious they have created Barrio to meet the market at an end of town removed from central Byrons often troubled night time streets. I believe as with all developments there is an opportunity to contest before the build and business moves forward? It does seem unfair to contest the venue after all the hard work has been done. I believe the venue is currently BYO, by adding a liquor license this could possibly allow management to better control intake and restrict any unsightly behaviour associated with excessive alcohol consumption. I hope that a common ground can be reached as it would be sad to see us lose such a beautiful space and fine eatery.

  18. Sal, since when did being a local entitle you to operate irresponsibly and disturb others? I am also a local who is actively involved in our wonderful and unique community. Oh, and I provide my community services for free!


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