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Byron Shire
March 2, 2021

Is it a tavern, canteen, cafe or restaurant?

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The original DA for the Habitat site was simple and clear.

The hours of operation for commercial and retail areas were 8am to 6pm on Mondays to Fridays and 8am to 1pm on Saturdays. The hours of operation for a canteen explicitly intended to service these businesses were set slightly shorter: 9am to 5pm Mondays to Fridays and 9am to 12pm on Saturdays.

This was approved in February 2016 and work on the Habitat site proceeded on this basis. I believe these hours of operation were appropriate for a development directly opposite a residential area.

Seven months later a Section 96 amendment to this DA was lodged to extend the operating hours of the commercial and retail areas to ‘daylight hours’ while the hours for the canteen ballooned to ‘daylight hours until midnight’.

Confusion has arisen because the S96 also reaffirmed that the status of the canteen as a ‘restaurant or cafe … with the exception that it is generally to be used to service the residents/workers with the development’.

If Mr Saul wanted a full-on restaurant for the wider public then he should have been upfront about it and sought explicit consent when he lodged his S96 application. I suspect such an application would have been denied because it would be reckless to locate a major new restaurant just 50m from homes when Habitat had hectares of space at their disposal.

Habitat’s neighbours expected a humble, low impact canteen with a limited market but got a loud, destination restaurant that is trying to establish itself on the local and national foodie scene. And it has now applied for a liquor licence so they can be Australia’s only canteen with cocktails.

The issue is not whether this more expansive vision is good or bad but whether the concept was clearly communicated to Habitat’s neighbours in the DA process.

The inconsistencies in the DA suggest that a candid plan was not put to us. A straight-forward reading of the S96 about a heavily restricted canteen was hardly a cause for alarm even if it had longer trading hours.

Fortunately the DA is unambiguous about noise: it is not allowed to interfere with the amenity of the local neighbourhood. I congratulate council for issuing a formal Noise Prevention Order and for holding Barrio accountable for containing the loud sound of their patrons.

David Dixon, Byron Bay


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