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Byron Shire
February 3, 2023

‘Koala brewery’ DA to be dramatically downsized

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Proposals for a major tourism development and koala hospital for Hinterland Way have been dramatically downsized, according to the developers’ planner.

A controversial $10million development application (DA) for a brewery and tourism venture combined with a koala hospital is likely to be dramatically rewritten, according to the applicant’s planner.

The plan drew the ire of local koala groups earlier this month, which said they had not been consulted and did not support the plan.

Last week ALP Ballina candidate Asren Pugh added his weight to the proposal’s opponents, calling the plan ‘a joke’.

‘I support the work of Bangalow Koalas and Friends of the Koala and also support the need for a local wildlife hospital. This must be done with the care and health of our local wildlife as the primary concern, not covering up for a development.’

Dwayne Roberts, from planners Ardill Payne, told Echonetdaily there are ‘substantial changes [to the plans] going on’.


He admits there was ‘quite a bit of miscommunication between the property owner [Lewis Haigh] and Linda Sparrow [of Bangalow Koalas] in relation of what was going to happen there’.

‘I was told Linda Sparrow was on board [with the koala hospital plan] from day one.’

Ms Sparrow says she and ecologist Renae Baker met twice with Mr Haigh to discuss koala tree planting on his property but she told Echonetdaily ‘the discussion never related to the establishment of a koala hospital’.

‘At our second meeting he showed us architectural drawings of the development which only had about half of what is currently proposed and no koala hospital.

‘Once we realised it was part of a tourism development we did not pursue it any further. There has been no communication since then,’ she said.

Changed plans

Mr Roberts told Echonetdaily that ‘Council have raised concerns with the scale of the development’.

He added that ‘60-70 per cent of that aspect of the DA’, including the koala hospital proposal, will be dropped.

While he said he was still waiting for confirmation from the owners, Mr Roberts added that the brewery and ‘eco-pod’ accommodation would also be unlikely to proceed.

‘The agricultural produce industry and depot section will be what remains.’

Mr Roberts said he was still talking to the RMS about access from Hinterland way but that it was ‘fairly much ideal’.

Mr Haigh sits on the board of the Bangalow Chamber of Commerce but, despite the size and location of the proposed development, president Jo Millar said that ‘at this stage the chamber doesn’t have a position on the development’.

Council coy

Byron Shire Council’s director of sustainable environment, Shannon Burt, has also been reluctant to comment on the proposal, saying only that, ‘the application will be reported to Council for determination once the assessment is completed’.

‘Council will need to consider the application against its planning controls under Byron LEP 2014 and Byron DCP 2014 for tourist and visitor accommodation and rural and nature-based tourism development.

‘The earliest the matter could be reported is the April planning meeting,’ the Ms Burt said.

The DA, number 10.2019.16.1, is on exhibition until March 6.


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  1. This is the ‘food hub’ in a slightly different guise. Read the DA in full and buried in the last pages is the true nature of the proposal


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