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March 5, 2021

Planning panel refuses ‘disrespectful’ Jonson St DA

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A contentious application to build a four-storey residential/commercial development at the southern end of Jonson Street has been refused by the Joint Regional Planning Panel, with one panelist branding it ‘disrespectful’.

There was a burst of applause from the public gallery as the panel unanimously rejected the $21.1m development at a meeting in Mullumbimby on Wednesday afternoon.

In doing so the panel went against a recommendation from Byron Council staff that the development be approved.

Instead, the panel accepted one of the main objections from locals, namely, that the proposed development was to be two-and-a-half metres above the current 9-metre height limit for that part of Byron.

This would have allowed the developer to squeeze a fourth storey into the building, going against resident’s long-held desire to maintain a three-storey CBD height limit.

Plans for the southern end of Jonson Street include two-level parking basement for 120 cars, 26 serviced apartments, 24 residential units, a 65-place childcare centre, shops and restaurant.

In arguing that its proposal should be approved, the developer relied heavily on the fact that Byron Council has proposed to increase building height limits in this part of town to 11.5m.

But the panel found that until the proposed increase had gone through the appropriate community consultation processes and become law, the development could not be approved.

‘I’m concerned that we’re being asked to vary a height limit based on a proposal that hasn’t been subject to community consultation,’ panel member Pamela Westing said.

‘I find it disrespectful quite frankly, not to go through that process before making the application.’

Panel Chair Garry West agreed.

‘Who’s to say that, after the community consultation process, it [the new height limit] won’t come back to 10.5 metres or 10 meters?’ Mr West asked.

‘If we were to approve that at the moment we would be disrespecting the process.’

Earlier, the meeting heard from around a dozen residents and resident group representatives, all of whom objected to the proposal development.

The co-chair of the Byron Bay Masterplan team, Donald Maughan, said the proposed development was a ‘Trojan horse being marched into our community’.

‘If this development is approved Byron Bay will effectively become a four-storey development site,’ Mr Maughan said.

He asked the panel to ‘please help us defend what we hold dear – a three-storey, low-rise development centre.

Mayor Simon Richardson said that unlike the Mercato shopping centre development which had been allowed to exceed height limits, the proponents of the Jonson St development ‘are simply seeking more height so they can fit in more apartments’.

‘This won’t destroy out community or our town, but it won’t add anything to it either,’ Cr Richardson said.

The applicants, JGD Developments, disagreed.

They argued that there was a ‘desperate need’ for medium density housing in the shire, a lack of commercial space, and a shortage of child care vacancies.

They also said that the proposed change to height limits in this part of Byron had informed the ‘core vision’ for the development.


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  1. Congratulations to the JRPP for their decision.

    And to Simon Richardson, who is deservedly causing a lot of angst with those who supported he and the Greens in our last elections.

    Many of us wonder what we worked / voted for ?

    It certainty wasn’t to support developers to tell us we need more child-care, housing and accomodation … because over-development has caused this very scenario.

    And what is Paul Spooner doing? Becoming the Developer’s Darling ?

    Two years to the next election … let’s watch carefully…

  2. Council has sent a request to State Govt to increase height levels that would then allow this development to go ahead. If the State Govt consents, then the proposed increased development height level will be exhibited for public comment and then voted on by Councillors, and if Councillors support the increase then it is likely the same Development Application will be resubmitted. But since the original DA, the State has increased from $M20 to $M30 for the level of DA’s that go straight to the State Govt Joint Regional Planning Panel, so the DA would be handled entirely by Byron Council. So if Cl does Adopt the proposed increased height levels then Cl will likely pass this development

  3. The artist impression of the DA proposal looks like gross overkill in an area of Byron that still has a chance of maintaining the relaxed atmosphere that Byron used to be in plentiful supply of.
    This town will always be the same size due to coastal and swamp limitations. Pretending otherwise is a recipe to destroy the core natural charm that we all fell in love with decades ago.
    Let’s not make that mistake.
    West Byron is a huge symbol of this mistake already.
    Will we learn in time?

  4. Is this development indicative of a new Byron Bay business model? Shops below and tourist accommodation above. Pack in as many cash cows as you can, they have no need for open space. The beach just a relatively short walk away past all the shops.
    Could this skulduggery be at all related to the skulduggery in Railway Park where the things Council is absolutely adamant are all they want to do are completely covered by the current park designation and yet they want to change the designation to one which allows many other things. They must want to do other things or there would be no need to change the designation. What other things do they want to do that they’re not telling us?

    • You are absolutely right, Robin, yet the changes to Railway Park went through without discussion or dissent in Council and with barely a whimper from the public. We also know what chance there’ll be that the “medium density residential” units will be used for permanent residents.

      Sorry, Mandy but I think the evidence that we are @#[email protected]#$ is mounting.

  5. Living in a 24/7 tourist town without an off season is a special type of purgatory. A bit like the narakas (purgatory) of Buddhism. Or even the duggati, which is the Sanskrit for difficult road. Both of these words are really a name for a painful experience.

    If you think about it, each greed driven development application or tree chopped down is another painful experience on the difficult road.

    Never fear, Buddhists believe you can escape purgatory. So why not sell up? You will be well rewarded and rich enough to pay the paid parking fees whenever you come back to visit. Plus, you can book an illegal holiday let, make a lot of noise and not pay a bed tax. But remember, Siddhartha was forced to discard his riches on the difficult road to self-knowledge.

    If you give your riches away, you will only be able to come back to Byron as a van packer, and paid parking fees will be your karma


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