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Byron Shire
June 15, 2024

West Byron land to be urgently reviewed 

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A staff report is expected for the Council meeting on November 22 which will review the environmental attributes and constraints of the contentious West Byron urban release area and what development would be suitable.

It comes after a successful motion from the October Council meeting (Cr Hunter opposed, Cr Spooner absent) calling for the review.

Greens Cr Michael Lyon told The Echo that following a staff report, Council could ‘potentially lodge a change of zoning in the LEP that better reflects what the site can handle.’

‘This process will not affect the DAs before the JRPP currently; but it will mean if they fall over, any new DA would have to comply with the new zoning. It also will enable us to ask state representatives, ministers and shadow ministers to support the rezoning and show that they are truly listening to our community.’

He says the state government interference with West Byron land was ‘a blanket rezoning without reference to the many site-specific issues that have been long known.’

Byron Shire mayor Simon Richardson said in a press release the land in the West Byron Release Area was well known to the community because of two development applications that are currently with the Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP).

He said, ‘To say that these DAs are being opposed by the community is an understatement with more than 4,000 objections received by the JRPP, the largest amount of submissions ever for a development in the Byron Shire.’

‘I acknowledge that this land is privately owned and people have a right to develop this land but the development has to be appropriate, and the two proposals for more than 650 housing blocks is simply not acceptable for a wide range of reasons,’ he said.

‘As part of Council’s assessment of the DAs, staff have confirmed there are significant environmental constraints relating to this land including: potential acid sulphate soils, flood prone [land], high environmental value vegetation and koala and threatened flora and fauna habitat.

‘To overcome these constraints, the DAs rely on extensive site modifications including significant amounts of fill, removal of and impact on sensitive habitat and engineering solutions to handle flooding, drainage and traffic.

‘What cost will this have on land that is zoned for environmental protection?’

‘The Byron community has said loud and clear that this land is significant and important to them and Council, and the NSW government, should respect this,’ mayor Richardson said.

 


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3 COMMENTS

  1. It seems what is not addressed here is how the West Byron Estate does not fit into the planning of the rest of the Shire and of the traffic problem generated on Ewingsdale Road that fronts the Estate.
    When Ewingsdale Road has to be upgraded to four lanes with all the roundabouts having to be upgraded to take the burgeoning extra traffic then the developer surely has to bear all those costs put onto Council that come from the Estate for all that infrastructure that Byron does not need. At the moment there are moments when traffic back up way back onto the expressway casing traffic jams
    The Butler Street Bypass is not needed as it seems to be halted in Council but will be needed when the Estate is put in so the cost of that Bypass can be put onto the cost of the West Byron Estate. This is the infrastructure that is needed just because the Estate is there. It generates extra traffic outside the Estate. So that cost of all that infrastructure has to be added onto the cost of the Estate because of that traffic generation.
    If the West Byron Estate does not pay for the infrastructure just who pays for it?
    The ordinary Byron Shire ratepayers pays for it and they have got nothing to do with the Estate.
    At the last Byron Shire Council elections ratepayers were asked if they wanted increased rates?
    The answer was a resounding “No.”
    But guess what, the mayor put in parking meters in the Byron CBD when Byron did not have parking meters, to pay for a huge backlist of Council infrastructure and infrastructure maintenance.

  2. Council has already done a study on the site many years ago, which reviewed the environmental attributes and constraints of the contentious West Byron urban release area and decided what development would be suitable. A Council staff Report identified that due to environmental, flooding and traffic constraints NO development should happen on this site (the Reports staff planner then left Council and was employed by the developers where he then bought out a Report, in a complete about face, supporting the massive development). Since the decades old Council Report, the sites environmental characteristics have become more important, the sites flood characteristics are destined to become more severe and Ewingsdale Roads traffic has become much worse. While the existing caravan park part of the site has existing capacity to be developed as a manufactured housing estate (under a State SEPP),the best ‘development’ of the site is for Compensatory Habitat (just stop slashing it and the surrounding wetlands will take over).
    ‘If the DA’s fall over’ – a very long bow that would require the developers L@E Court Appeal against Deemed Refusal to be rejected rather than passed with Conditions of Consent (there hasnt been a Refusal but the JRPP/Council hasnt made a decision within the required time frame). Prior to it being considered under the State Govt’s “Potential Urban Release Area” the site was Council zoned for Investigation (and Cls Investigation Report stated NO development), ie there was no “right to develop this land”.

  3. In addressing the issue of the proposed West Byron development, it is useful to re-examine how that catastrophe of a DA was approved in the first place.

    The then NSW Government Planning Minister, Pru Goward MP, rubber stamped the DA site unseen having never travelled to the region to personally look at the land in question and listen to the real world issues about the site from locals living here on the ground.

    The very same NSW Minister who is now answering difficult questions regarding creating a ‘new stolen generation’ with her latest debacle of a portfolio: Family and Community Services, and Social Housing.

    If current performance is any indication of past performance, this Minister is great at creating an absolute mess, probably attributable to her lack of diligence with the details of her job.

    Perhaps the original decision to approve the original application needs to be overturned based on the then Planning Minister’s improper approval in the first place ? An approval that significantly lacked the appropriate checks and balances for a development of its size and scope for a regional area..

    Isn’t it just possible that the whole thing was incorrectly allowed to go ahead in the first place ?

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