The fifty-acre Elements of Byron resort in Byron Bay has taken out the Retail and Commercial Development Award from the Urban Development Institute of Australia. The resort was awarded for its investment in ecology, community and groundbreaking design and technology. Elements of Byron was also commended for its efforts in sustainability and environmental technology.
‘To be recognised by the development industry for what we have done in Byron Bay is overwhelmingly satisfying,’ said Elements of Byron owner Peggy Flannery. ‘Developing in Byron has its own unique set of challenges and rewards. We understand that, as owners of this diverse and fragile property, we have a tremendous obligation to the community and environment.’
Flannery’s first step towards achieving this development outcome was rejecting a 2006 approval for two-storey holiday houses in favour of a 1987 approval for much smaller single-storey ‘beach shacks’ and keeping all buildings to a single storey across the site.
Flannery has also achieved reinstatement of the local train service using the world’s first solar train while also planning for an onsite eco-education centre.
Architect Shane Thompson’s attempt to achieve something particularly Byron includes the curved roof design for the central buildings, which required a post-tensioned structure spanning 38 metres with fibre-reinforced composite purlins. As a first of its kind, testing was undertaken by the University of Sydney before the design could be finalised. The finished product mimics the windswept sand dunes bounding the resort.
The site’s ecological features encompass numerous rare and endangered species, thirteen acres of littoral rainforest, a tea-tree creek, a lake and many ponds. Only 19 of 1,400 mature native trees were removed to establish the resort with a further 175,000 native trees and plants added. With the second and final stage of development now complete, the overall development’s building footprint remains at 10 per cent.
Development director Jeremy Holmes has led a two-way community-engagement program commencing as early as 2012. ‘This provided complete transparency of the development. Access to information for the community was of utmost importance,’ he said.
Byron Shire Greens mayor Simon Richardson has reiterated this, saying, ‘This organisation has engaged with the community to bring them along on the journey, and so Byron will continue to support such innovative developments’.