To park, or not

John Lazarus, Byron Bay

Byron Council misled the public by their press and web statements that the Railway Park status needed to be changed from ‘park’ to ‘general community use’ to facilitate the weekly Sea Shepherd stall, the weekly market and rallies.

The Local Govt Act, and associated legislation, is quite clear that such events can be held under the existing status of ‘park’, and sets out the capacity of ‘park’ to provide licences and leases.

‘Park’ allows a max three consecutive days for events, and a max one-year licence/lease for multiple events, while Council’s proposed General Community Use status allows licences/leases for 365 days a year for 25-year periods, and the construction of buildings.

The Local Govt legislation was sent to Council but, desperate to find something to hang their propaganda on, their only response was that these activities may intrude on the peaceful enjoyment of the public.

The Local Govt Act required the recent public hearing on the proposed change of status from ‘park’, but the hearing was just a front for Council to fulfil their legal obligations, and without any substantive reason other than aspirational statements, the hearings report recommended the change to General Community Use. The spurious report will be coming to Council for a vote by councillors.

In associated news, some of the Masterplan committee wanted the Railway Park grove of cottonwood trees removed, but evidently a compromise was reached where the trees will be retained but sculpted. Evidently the issue with the trees is that they made it dark under them. Dark under trees is called shade and, just because people seek it out under our hot summer sun, evidently the present size of the trees doesn’t fit the new proposed sanitised park look. The new park look is proposed to be facilitated by the removal of 194 square metres of Railway Park grass, to be replaced by 194 square metres of concrete, with another couple of hundred square metres of concrete for a park extension from Jonson St to the railway forecourt (requests for retention of park grass, and grass for the proposed extension, have been made).  

The Byron Environment Centre is still attempting to keep the Rotunda in Railway Park. We have agreed to temporarily move during park works, and have suggested temporary placement on the adjoining Visitors Centre Reserve, as we are concerned with the harsh beachfront weather impacts on the painted murals. Despite previously formally telling us to remove the Byron Environment Centre’s Rotunda from Railway Park, Council is now asking us to prove we own it and still hasn’t agreed to a position in the park, or to an arrangement of us as managers of the structure. 

3 responses to “To park, or not”

  1. Liz L says:

    Are we sure we want to risk removing all safeguards to ensure the continuation of what is already happening? The categorisation of park allows a filter through a POM that allows the community to decide what activities to allow – the activities agreed not to impact on the ‘peaceful enjoyment’ of the area.

    We don’t need to rely on the JRPP to to destroy our community – there are plenty of alternative drivers closer to home

  2. Gareth William Smith says:

    Thank goodness we have community activists like John Lazarus and Dailan Pugh who keep tabs on what developments are being planned behind closed doors. We cannot allow Railway Park to be concretised and to become a commercial extension of the CBD.

    • Liz L says:

      Agreed but it’s likely to happen as there seems to be much apathy and a belief that it won’t happen – until it does. There were very few at the public meeting. It’s either apathy or battle fatigue.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Become a supporter of The Echo

A note from the editorial team

Some of The Echo’s editorial team: journalists Paul Bibby and Aslan Shand, editor Hans Lovejoy, photographer Jeff Dawson and Mandy Nolan

The Echo has never underestimated the intelligence and passion of its readers. In a world of corporate banality and predictability, The Echo has worked hard for more than 30 years to help keep Byron and the north coast unique with quality local journalism and creative ideas. We think this area needs more voices, reasoned analysis and ideas than just those provided by News Corp, lifestyle mags, Facebook groups and corporate newsletters.

The Echo is one hundred per cent locally owned and one hundred per cent independent. As you have probably gathered from what is happening in the media industry, it is not cheap to produce a weekly newspaper and a daily online news service of any quality.

We have always relied entirely on advertising to fund our operations, but often loyal readers who value our local, independent journalism have asked how they could help ensure our survival.

Any support you can provide to The Echo will make an enormous difference. You can make a one-off contribution or a monthly one. With your help, we can continue to support a better informed local community and a healthier democracy for another 30 years.”

Echonetdaily is made possible by the support of all of our advertisers and is brought to you by this week's sponsor Brunswick Picture House.