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March 24, 2023

West Byron public hearings, June 19

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The Harvest estate landscape master plan, supplied by Villa World.

Public submissions for two contentious and large West Byron developments will be held before the Northern Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP) at the Mullumbimby Civic Hall 55 Dalley St Mullumbimby (not the Council Chambers as previously advised) on June 19 from 3pm.

The panel will hear submissions for the two separate development applications (DAs) on a large parcel of land opposite the Arts Industry Estate on Ewingsdale Road.

One DA is being put forward by a collective of ‘locals,’ while the other is by Sydney based developer Terry Agnew and Queensland based construction company Villa World.

In total, the proposal suggests 668 residential blocks, two business lots, two industrial lots, one recreation lot and four residue lots.

In May 2017, The NSW Department of Planning and Environment issued a press release spruiking the largest urban and commercial land release on sensitive wetlands in generations. The intervention overrode Byron Shire Council’s Local Environment Plan (LEP) and came without the council’s support. And according to the last council election, the proposal does not reflect the wishes of the majority of the community. The previous slim council majority was only possible after Greens councillor Rose Wanchap defected and voted to ask the then-planning minister to approve West Byron ‘to her satisfaction.’

5,000 submissions

In April this year, Byron Shire Council said it had received more than 5,000 submissions in response to the DAs, which council staff say was the most ever received. Issues raised, staff said, included: ‘traffic, environmental impacts, koalas, stormwater, flooding, earthworks and design.’

The ‘locals’ plan for 290 houses at West Byron. Image supplied

Then in March, Echonetdaily reported that NSW planning minister Anthony Roberts (Liberal) told parliament he has no role in determining the development, despite allowing his department to intervening to accommodate the wishes of West Byron developers.

And his comments also are at odds with a letter he sent to Council in 2017, where he threatened to personally intervene unless a development control plan for West Byron is produced to his liking – and timing.

Both NSW Labor and Greens are opposed, while local Nationals MLC Ben Franklin has expressed concerns over the development proposal. In July last year he told Echonetdaily, ‘I have genuine and significant concerns about the proposed West Byron subdivision.’

‘Independent’ panel

While the DAs are under local government jurisdiction, an ‘independent’ panel will determine the applications, as the estimated price of construction exceeds $25m. The northern chapter of the JRPP is chaired by former Nationals Party MP Garry West and comprises mid level bureaucrats and council representatives. The panel recently deferred a decision on a private hospital on on Ewingsdale Road, located near the current Byron Central Hospital. While that proposal did not adequately address traffic mitigation and asked for deferred approval, the panel appeared to support the developer’s DA in principle at the meeting.

About the West Byron:

DA 10.2017.201.1 proposes 290 residential lots across blocks ranging from 205m2 up to duplex blocks of around  800–900m2.

There are 25 duplex blocks indicated in the masterplan. As previously reported, sustainability requirements within the DA are minimal, and the entire project comes without any inclusion for affordable housing.

The other DA (10.2017.661.1) proposes 378 residential lots, two business lots, two industrial lots, one recreation lot and four residue lots.

Traffic consultants Veitch Lister say that traffic on Ewingsdale Road is ‘now in excess of 20,000 vehicles per day (vpd) in the off season.’

They add, ‘up to 300,000m3 of fill will be required to complete the site formation across the whole [West Byron area], in order to achieve the desired flood immunity.’

The traffic consultants say they ‘have not assessed any of the traffic issues that might arise during the construction of the western stage one precinct. These matters are for Villaworld’s traffic consultants to address.’

To register to speak at the meeting, contact the JRPP secretariat before 3pm on Friday June 15 on (02) 8217 2060 or email: [email protected]. When registering, please nominate your preferred briefng session.


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