If the West Byron development goes ahead the Byron that you know, the Byron that we love, is dead. Murder. In plain daylight. Except this murder has been calculated, financed and sanctioned by the state.
Allowing development at West Byron is the same as driving a coal port through the barrier reef. It will destroy something fragile and beautiful. Not so much coral bleaching, but car-al belching. It will be a new version of the Peter Weir classic The Cars that Ate Paris contemporised to reflect current realty rape, aka ‘The Cars that Ate Paradise’.
Imagine 100,000 extra cars every week, many of them travelling the small stretch between Ewingsdale and Byron. It’s ludicrous. If that road were an artery the town would be having a full-scale heart attack. Then add trucks full of one million tonnes of fill. That’s more than 500,000 trips by a dump truck. Beautiful Byron ain’t sounding so beautiful anymore.
Planning geniuses in Sydney have engineered the ultimate gridlock by positioning the exit to Bangalow/Lismore via a roundabout next to the roundabout to Byron next to another mini-roundabout for the hospital. Was this a late-night cone-pulling and drinking round about drawing session? So Bangalow didn’t want an exit so Byron got all of them?
Were the architects of Roundabout World stoned and laughing as they gasped ‘One more! We’ll put in another one!’ Three roundabouts in 300 metres. It’s like traffic-induced vertigo.
Was the RTA hoping that a bit like Blind Man’s Bluff, if you turned people around enough times they might just leave? Dizzy people giving up and deciding instead to spend two weeks in Woodburn. The traffic entering Byron and leaving Byron is problematic already. It’s not just problematic; it’s the root cause of the ‘Oh fuck, I’m not going to Byron today’ anxiety that grips many of us who have to schedule our trips so we don’t enter the badlands of bumper-to-bumper insanity. And that’s just those of us who have to go to Byron.
Imagine living IN Byron. It’s cruel. The good people of Byron have coped with enough. Are people going to have to take a ballot to decide what days they can leave their houses so that the roads don’t clog?
We simply can’t accommodate thousands more vehicles. Just after the hospital was opened I was rear-ended in a five-car pileup. Why? Because at peak times there is a significant traffic situation. The state government seems happy to push poor Byron to breaking point. Surely a town that does so much yoga won’t snap?
Byron doesn’t have the geography for continuous expansion. It’s a point. It’s a point that developers don’t seem to get. Stop. Enough. Look after what you have. You don’t have to be a cartographer to look at a map and realise the unique thing about Byron Bay is that it’s landlocked. That’s why it’s so precious. This small yet magical bay.
There has to be some sort of cap on what kind of population and development pressure you can put on what is clearly a finite space. Byron doesn’t have the geography of urban sprawl that the Gold Coast has. You can’t push your suburban skirts out for kilometre after profitable kilometre. That being so, desirability has become extremely high.
Everyone wants to be in the coveted Byron triangle. But it’s just not possible. Sorry. It’s full. The turmeric-infused hipster dreaming is not for all.
And please don’t start bleating on about affordable housing. Nobody is going to develop Byron for affordable housing. Byron isn’t affordable. It won’t ever be affordable. It stopped being affordable 20 years ago. Affordable housing is what developers say when Council says NO. There’s still time to stop this koala- and culture-killing cancer called West Byron.
Please send your submission to Byron Shire Council – [email protected] by Thursday 29 March. West We Forget.