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March 8, 2021

Byron’s plans for commercial land expansion revealed

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The Draft Employment Lands strategy (page 24) explains what’s available to develop in Byron Shire for commercial and industrial areas.

Byron Shire’s Draft Employment Lands strategy, a plan to increase available land for retail and industrial use, is on public exhibition until November 1.

So what’s it about?

The strategy, drafted by consultants HillPDA, aims to meet demand over the next 20 years.

The report claims of around 64 hectares within Byron Shire, 24.4 hectares of commercial land is undeveloped, ‘and could accommodate the majority of the projected demand.’

And to achieve that, planning controls would need to be tinkered with.

While the proposals appear modest and even small in comparison to the sorts of development that could occur, it’s worth noting the report’s proposal to increase floor space ratio (FSR) across many of the Shire’s towns ‘to be consistent with Byron Bay town centre’.

That would increase the floor space ratio up to 1.3 and building heights of 11.5m in Bangalow, Brunswick Heads Mullum, for example.

It’s suggested Billinudgel’s FSR be increased between 0.75 and 1. Flood-mitigation measures should be implemented, of course, ‘to support businesses in Billinudgel village’.

Meanwhile, Ocean Shores appears constrained, given the estate’s commercial area is limited.

Potential sites

Yet how about a new industrial site around Manns Road, Mullumbimby, southern Gulgan Road/highway interchange and just east of the highway near Bangalow? 

Currently it is flat agricultural land, yet the proximity to the highway is favourable, says the report.

But how it would be designed – ie where and how much open space would be left, and whether there would be cycle tracks to connect it to Mullum for example are yet to be proposed.

Expansions of the town centres of Byron Bay, Mullumbimby and Bangalow are also being considered to meet the growing demand for commercial/retail land in these centres.

West Byron takes lion’s share

The West Byron proposal, which has seen huge public opposition, is included in the strategy.

While the strategy fails to mention potential issues such as how West Byron would impact on neighbouring lands, the proposal is for West Byron industrial sector to swallow up most of the proposed residual vacant land at 7ha.

Bangalow Industrial is pegged at 0.2ha, Byron Arts and Industry 2.9ha, Mullumbimby Industrial 1.8ha, Ross Industrial zero, Billinudgel Industrial 0.5ha.

And what would a strategy be without glossy pictures and the repetition of available facts and figures?

A ‘solid foundation for success,’ says the report, is a ‘thriving tourism economy and strong farming and agricultural sector… combined with Byron’s strong local identity and emerging innovative industries.’

In 2015/16, the four largest industries were ‘accommodation and food services ($129 million), healthcare and social assistance ($125 million), construction ($114 million),’ and ‘retail trade ($111 million).’

The report claims 31,571 people were living in Byron Shire in 2016, with 13,560 of those being employed.

Employment stats

The top four employing industries in 2016 were retail trade (14.7 per cent), accommodation and food services (14.3 per cent), healthcare and social assistance (11.1 per cent) and construction (9.8 per cent).

It states, ‘Industries with the greatest growth in employment were healthcare and social assistance (743 job increase); professional, scientific and technical support (409 job increase); construction (367 job increase); and education and training (296 job increase).’

Byron Shire’s workforce comprised 45 per cent fulltime and 53 per cent part- time employees.

Byron Bay

As for expansion opportunities, Byron Bay, like Ocean Shores, is constrained, with just 995sqm or two per cent vacant floor space available to be developed.

The report reads, ‘Byron Bay town centre will continue to operate as the largest commercial centre within Byron local government area (LGA). The centre will continue to play a primary role as the tourism, retail and entertainment hub of the LGA.

‘Sunrise Boulevard will emerge as a live–work and share space precinct supported by a small convenience retail centre. It will foster creativity with live–work and co-working spaces for small businesses and freelancers.’

As for Suffolk Park, projected demand can be accommodated by an, ‘increase in planning controls, such as the FSR, from the current 0.5:1 to around 1:1… for 3 Clifford Street. This may provide an incentive for redevelopment to accommodate additional floorspace, when demand and market drivers are sufficient.’


As for Mullum, the report suggests looking at expanding the town’s centre ‘to the south of Tincogan Street or a rationalisation and densification of land uses within the centre, through alterations to planning controls (particularly along Dalley Street, between Whian and Burringbar Streets and near the Woolworths).’

To accommodate increased commercial activity, the report suggests investigating ‘the implication of or potential to increase floor space ratio (up to 1.3) and building height (11.5m) within existing zoned centre, to be consistent with Byron Bay town centre.’

Additionally, the report’s authors say it’s worth considering ‘opportunities for an additional small-scale supermarket by around 2028.’

A local character statement ‘that defines the role, values and identity of Mullumbimby’s town centre’ could also be developed, ‘in consultation with the community.’

According to the consultants, by 2041 Mullumbimby’s town centre is projected to have an undersupply of specialty food and liquor stores, fast food, personal services (ie hairdressers), supermarket and grocery store, restaurants, hotels and clubs and commercial spaces.

The projected oversupply by 2041 includes bulky good stores and ‘other specialties.’

Challenges for the town include ‘fragmented ownership and limited vacant land for redevelopment, heritage conservation zone; heritage items; [being] floodprone and acid sulfate soil affectations.’

And perhaps to the suprise of no-one, the authors say another challenge is ‘Achieving community consensus on the type and scale of development appropriate to strengthen and grow the centre.’ 

The Shire’s north

Using vacancy rates as a metric of prosperity, the report claims that ‘the high vacancy rates within Brunswick Heads and Billinudgel Village imply that these centres are underperforming.’

‘Ocean Shores is the stronger of the centres with a lower vacancy rate. The two anchor tenants (Country Target and Coles supermarket) increase the attractiveness of the centre and passing trade for other specialty retail and commercial uses.’

While there is limited expansion opportunity in Ocean Shores, the consultants suggest investigating ‘the potential to increase floor space ratio (up to 1.3) and building height (11.5m) in Brunswick Heads town centre to be consistent with Byron Bay town centre, or as defined by a feasibility assessment.’

Likewise, a floor space ratio review (between 0.75 and 1) is suggested for Billinudgel village ‘to encourage further development.’ 

The authors say Brunswick Heads could also be promoted ‘as a more affordable lifestyle employment location.’

This could be achieved by reviewing ‘the planning controls to enable live–work, and co-working spaces in the B4 zoned areas and in areas south of Fingal Street.’

A new neighbourhood centre at Bayside in Brunswick Heads was also suggested.

To attract and maintain businesses, there must be adequate infrastructure, such as ‘communication, access and support services (eg childcare facilities).’

Download the draft strategy and supporting information at www.byron.nsw.gov.au/Public-Notice.

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