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Byron Shire
May 10, 2021

Sydney planning staff hear of Yelgun festival site concerns

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Aftermath of a trial festival at the North Byron Parklands site. Photo CONOS

Department of Planning and Environment (DoPE) staff faced a group of Yelgun residents last Friday at the Ocean Shores Shopping Centre over plans by North Byron Parklands to up their festival capacity to 50,000 and secure the site as a permanent home to Splendour in The Grass and Falls festivals, among other events.

DoPE staff say the proposal would see the festivals held over five days each, with up to 35,000 patrons initially.

‘The applicant is seeking to progressively increase patron attendance at Splendour in the Grass to 50,000, but this would only occur if certain performance measures are met.’

Other events are also proposed to be held throughout the year, including three music or cultural events, with up to 25,000 patrons a day, five small community days such as local arts festivals for up to 5,000 patrons a day, and two minor event days for school sports carnivals for 1,500 patrons.

It follows a trial period of five years, plus a 20-month extension by the department.

DoPE also say that upgrades to the site worth $42 million are proposed and include a conference centre, a permanent ‘golden view’ bar, terracing of the main amphitheatre, improvements to transport infrastructure, and restoration and maintenance of vegetation and habitat.

Splendour in The Grass and Falls Fest is 51 per cent owned by US multinational corporation Live Nation, who bought the event from the owners of North Byron Parklands in 2016.

Fire hazard

Yelgun resident Derek Harper told The Echo he was concerned about the fire hazard along Jones Road.

‘The NBP fence line has far more combustible material than is safe, but they are reluctant to do anything about it, despite the often expressed concerns of the Jones Road residents. Neither the council, parks or RFS seem interested in the threat or the problems associated with evacuating the residents. 

‘North Byron Parklands purchased the Yelgun site 12 years ago. During this time, no bush fire hazard reduction has ever been carried out along their Jones Road fence line.

‘This should have been a priority, considering the ridgeline is identified as an Extreme Risk Area. This is not only a risk to neighbours, but could easily present a fire risk for patrons also.’

Another resident said, ‘During these festivals, we are locked into our homes and out of our villages.’

Other issues raised by locals included the attempted avoidance of the landowners to have their future applications assessed by the government instead of Council, the intense nationwide lobbying of patrons to increase their capacity, the overwhelming volume of patrons compared to the actual rate-payer base of the Shire, safety concerns from the fire and police departments, flooding and traffic issues.

Another woman told The Echo, ‘there is no independent auditing from the DoPE to prove what economic benefits there are for the area; there is no evidence other than what the developers themselves provide.’

Submissions can be made until February 16 via www.majorprojects.planning.nsw.gov.au/page/on-exhibition.

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