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Byron Shire
May 20, 2024

Byron Bay CBD could become a sideshow alley

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I have very serious misgivings about the proposed ‘Amendment to LEP 2014’, namely ‘Byron Bay Town Centre Activation of Public Spaces’.

This proposal will allow ‘start up retail, creative pop-ups, shared office space and market stalls. Portable or demountable single-storey structures will be allowed to set up on the railway land running parallel to Jonson Street and any laneways leading to town as well as Lawson Street South and the Rails car parks (really).

The proposal allows for 14 days to be extended to 52 days. One can only imagine how this could escalate until we have a hawker on every corner. Who is going to monitor these activities? Will council outsource, as is their wont, and who is going to monitor the monitors?

What will be the impact on our established businesses. They are paying high rents and in some cases rates and have paid for the professional fitting out of their premises. Anyone can set up nearby selling similar merchandise with minimal overheads.

Where is the voice of Byron Chamber of Commerce, are they concerned for their members?

With our renowned Writers Festival, the Beach Hotel and the arrival of top class resorts such as Byron at Byron, Elements and unique enterprises like The Farm and numerous restaurants catering for all tastes and incomes, Byron has become an international tourist destination.

Tourists are coming here in droves for our beautiful natural environment, our friendly and laid-back lifestyle and our increasingly diverse retail sector. They do not come here for ‘sideshow alley’

Ruby Menzies, Suffolk Park


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  1. I agree, Ruby

    As more and more locals avoid the CBD at all costs, and not just because of the traffic, I personally don’t believe Byron Bay needs any more ‘activation’. The rail corridor wasteland needs tidying up but what about a safe bike track through town? (And no there’s no need to rip up the tracks) A narrow shared footpath lined with copious blind driveways and disappearing well before the CBD just doesn’t cut it for a town choked with traffic.

    The masterplan talks about the community’s desire to see a halt to franchises and the need to support local businesses. Thie aim would appear to be in contradiction with this proposal. It talks about strengthening economic activity and employment. 52 days a year employment doesn’t help with regular rent payments!

    Has any discussion occurred with the Masterplan Leadership group about this?

  2. Over the past decade the number of markets in Byron have tripled, at least. Where once there was only one monthly Sunday market on Butler Reserve – and it was considered special, unique – now there is also a weekly Saturday market over an extended summer in Railway park, plus four(?) Beachfront markets, plus the Surf Festival market, recently quadrupled in size, plus the weekly Farmers Market etc etc. So many markets! For many stallholders this means we often need to work twice as hard to make the same income. It’s a picture that might add some credence to Ruby’s letter. Indeed I think the Chamber of Commerce should be included in this conversation. Commerce, Byron style, and so many entrepreneurs at the gate. Byron, a case of the Goose that Laid the Golden Egg?

    • Interesting perspective, Helen, that more markets are not necessarily great for the long term stall holders. I have experienced some of my favourite stalls at the Byron market disappear over the years. One told me, at another local market, that it wasn’t worth trying to sell their stock at Byron because it wasn’t the typical visitor purchase. So much for creating culture and choice for locals!
      Definitely a case of the goose and the golden egg I think. I’d hope though that Council didn’t actively work to hasten the goose’s demise.


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