Hans Lovejoy & Jim Beatson
The government-appointed body that will decide on the proposed West Byron urban sprawl opposite the Arts & Industry Estate will not have seen Byron Shire Council’s assessment or the thousands of public submissions before the public meeting it called for June 19 at Mullumbimby Civic Hall.
The two West Byron DAs lodged between them seek approval for 667 residential lots and associated business, industrial and residue lots.
A Department of Planning and Environment (DoPE) spokesperson confirmed with The Echo that ‘letters sent out from the Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP) to notify the community of the upcoming meeting incorrectly stated that Council’s assessment report and recommendations would be made available prior to the meeting.’
‘Community members wishing to speak at the meeting should raise any further planning-related issues they have with the proposal at the public briefing.
‘A further public meeting will be held to give the community another opportunity to directly address the Panel with their concerns once the council’s assessment report and its recommendations have been finalised. The report will be made available on the Planning Panel’s website seven days prior to the public meeting.’
Council staff confirmed they are still assessing the application and reviewing submissions. A spokesperson said, ‘The verbal submissions that will be made at the public briefing will also need to be taken into account in the assessment process.’
The Echo asked the DoPE, ‘Why didn’t the JRPP or the DoPE seek to confirm that Council staff had completed its West Byron assessment before announcing this meeting for June 19? It appears a waste of the public’s time to make public submissions at this meeting given the panel will not be fully informed of Council’s position and the public opposition.’
A spokesperson replied, ‘A public briefing meeting for June 19 has been organised by the Northern Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP) due to significant community interest in two development applications in West Byron.’
‘In this instance, the JRPP chairperson elected to give the community an additional opportunity to voice their feedback on the development applications, prior to the public determination meeting. The applicant and everyone who has made a submission are invited to attend the public briefing meeting. The council assessment officer usually attends to record any issues raised which need to be addressed in the council assessment report.’