Contentious foreshore land in Brunswick Heads will not be handed back to Council owing to it being ‘far more cost effective’ for a government-run corporation to maintain instead.
Reflections Holiday Parks CEO Steve Edmonds responded to Echo questions over the long-running saga, which may well wrap up soon after its plans of management for Ferry Reserve caravan park and Terrace Reserve are considered by the NSW government.
Yet residents, including Brunswick Heads Progress Association president John Dunn, have been highly critical of the state-run corporation’s ‘land grab’.
Dunn told The Echo Reflections has attempted to hoodwink the public into believing that it is returning open space to the public.
‘The reality is that in these latest plans, [Reflections are] relinquishing a fraction of what it tried to take in the discredited 2014 Plans of Management.
‘On ABC North Coast Radio last week, the CEO of Reflections seemed confused about the gazetted status of the lands adjoining the caravan parks. He shouldn’t be confused, as community members have repeatedly informed him of the facts.
‘The encroached land at Massey Greene (Lot 7005) was originally gazetted for maritime purposes. In September 2006, it was re-gazetted and its use changed to: “access and public requirements, and rural services, tourism purposes and environmental and heritage conservation”, not “caravan and camping” like the rest of Massey Greene. Parts of Lot 7005 were traditionally used for overflow camping at Christmas and Easter. In the early 2000s, park managers tried to incorporate these areas into the caravan park by installing fences and permanent infrastructure.
‘This prompted the community opposition that continues to this day.
‘At Ferry Reserve, the foreshore parkland is approximately 25 metres wide. Half of this (right on the riverbank) is designated for recreation. The other half is a part of Riverside Crescent road reserve. In the early 2000s caravan park managers installed fences and infrastructure on that parkland.
‘Byron Shire Council insisted that the park boundary was the edge of the road. In 2012, Crown Lands compulsorily acquired the road reserve. Park managers proceeded to block access to the public boat ramp.
‘Mr Edmonds has attempted to support the myth that Reflections is increasing public space by quoting figures based on the discredited 2014 Plans of Management. The simplistic surveys that Reflections provided for public feedback to the amended PoMs did the same thing.
‘They repeatedly asked people to agree that space was being returned to the “public realm”.
‘If people did not know what had occurred before 2014, they could have agreed to these misleading statements. It was also not made clear in the radio interview that the spaces being “returned” will be for the benefit of Reflections customers as much as, and in some cases more than, the community. The picnic tables along the foreshore, the children’s playgrounds, the dog-walking area, and the boat ramp are most easily accessed from the holiday parks, not from the town.
‘In quoting numbers for “returned” land out of context, Mr Edmonds failed to mention that at Ferry Reserve, Reflections has gained over 17,000 m2 from the old Pacific Highway, the Fins building and part of the Riverside Crescent road reserve.’
The Echo asked Edmonds why was there is no clarity of foreshore lands in the draft PoM for the Brunswick Heads Ferry Reserve caravan park as it appears to use a ‘standard width despite a lot of variation’.
He replied, ‘Widths are 10 metres minimum, and at various points, in excess of this. Nowhere gets less than 10 metres.’
As for the disputed/encroached lands, Edmonds replied this includes ‘the foreshore land, gazetted as public recreation (holiday park), dating back to 1952.’
‘Aerial photos from the time prove that it was used as a holiday park. We are required by the Local Government Act to provide a 3-metre setback from the top of the bank. We are providing over three times this amount and in some places, over 10 times. This is all part of the same reserve 74701; gazettal clearly says bounded by the Brunswick River. This land is rightfully ours to manage.’
Resident Sean O’Meara told The Echo that the town’s foreshores ‘are getting slammed and current tourist use shows more open space is desperately needed in Bruns, not less as is proposed.’