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Byron Shire
December 2, 2021

Jonson Street development would ‘tower’ over guesthouse

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Artist’s impression of the proposed development on the corner of Jonson and Browning Streets, Byron Bay. Image supplied

The Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP) will tomorrow decide whether to approve a $21 million, four-storey residential and commercial development at the southern end of Jonson Street that adjoining residents say would ‘tower’ over their properties with balconies that would ‘peer’ into their backyards.

The development proposal comes on the back of Byron Shire Council’s decision in September this year to endorse a planning proposal that will increase the height limit for that end of the Byron CBD to 11.5 metres and to abolish the floor space ratio.

The planning proposal in turn followed a Byron Bay Masterplan community meeting attended by general community members, architects, developers, real estate agents and local business owners, calling for fewer restrictions ‘to support the built form aspirations for the town centre’.

In a further twist, the developer, Graham Dunn, previously sat on the Masterplan leadership team.

Council has endorsed the development application even though the planning proposal has yet to be approved by the state government, so the JRPP’s approval of the DA would effectively pre-empt it.

The current height limit for that end of Jonson Street is nine metres.

The Palms Guesthouse at 5 Browning Street, which would be significantly impacted by the development owner Peter O’Connor says. Photo supplied

But Peter O’Connor, proprietor of The Palms Guesthouse, told Echonetdaily that even the developers admit that the building will be 12.2 metres high at the point where it would abut Ruskin Lane because of the slope of the land.

Mr O’Connor says his property and another at 1 Ruskin Lane are in a ‘development squeeze’ that ‘threatens our residential amenity, our recurrent financial position and the capital values of our properties’.

‘This has occurred basically because Council’s new height controls for Jonson Street to replace the LEP clears the way for a very intense DA, up to 13.5 metres high and with no floor space ratio limit, to be considered and approved by its officers alone and seemingly allowing the conversion of Ruskin Lane into a commercial thoroughfare.’

He added that shadow estimates from the proposed development will place his garden and the rooftop solar panels in shade by 2pm in the winter months.

‘Solar experts estimate a $1,000 per year loss in solar generation,’ he said.

Mr O’Connor also queried the use of Ruskin Lane for two-way vehicular access to the property, including for reversing garbage trucks.

In addition, he said, ‘as part of its proposed 50 accommodation units [are] eight dual key apartments with balconies facing eastwards towards the adjacent residents. Lines of sight into the yards of the adjacent properties… will allow peering into the adjacent residents’ yards.’

Own review

Mr O’Connor said after receiving short shrift from council officers, he and neighbour Annette Feletti of 1 Ruskin Lane paid $3,000 of their own money to have the traffic study reviewed.

They also disputed the shadow estimates affecting their property

Queries undertaken by Ballina MP Tamara Smith on behalf of the residents resulted in council requiring the applicants to submit revised plans ‘which show that there will be shadow by 3pm mid-winter on part of the dwelling at 5 Browning approved for a bed and breakfast,’ according to sustainable development director Shanon Burt.

Ms Smith told Echonetdaily she ‘made representations on Peter O’Connor’s behalf and that of two other constituents to Byron Shire Council’.

‘I also made representations on Mr O’Connor’s behalf to the Minister for Local Government asking for a review of and clarification around this DA process, sent 24 October – no response has been received as of yet.

‘Mr O’Connor has also said that he has sought independent legal advice,’ Ms Smith said.

The Joint Regional Planning Panel Meeting to consider the application will take place on Wednesday, November 14, at Byron Shire Council Chambers, Station Street, Mullumbimby, from 10am.

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  1. Precedent !!! We fought hard for decades to keep the 3-storey limit.

    Developers – out to squeeze every drop outa you, me and the Community !

    No No No !!!

  2. I bet most of these proposed apartments will be for AirBnB and certainly not for locals seeking long term housing. Who empowered Council to unilaterally approve the increased height when most of the Byron community would be against this? What is happening in Byron is a microcosm of what is happening to our planet. The irrational belief that Earth’s resources are infinite and that we can plunder as we please,ecophobia, has to be overthrown and replaced with ecophilia. The West Byron megalopolis and this monstrosity have to be repealed.


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