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May 11, 2021

Is it time to bypass the transport hub?

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Plans for the proposed Byron Bay transport hub. Photo supplied

‘Byron, can I suggest it’s time for a deep breath and rethink before we pave paradise and ruin the town we love?’

Former Byron mayor Jan Barham.

This is the call from former mayor Jan Barham in response to the proposed transport hub under consideration opposite the railway station in Byron Bay.

‘It’s sad to think that the industrialisation of Byron Bay with the bypass and the bus interchange might go ahead and change the character of Byron forever,’ she said.

Ms Barham pointed out that when they designed the Cavanbah complex it included additional parking for park and ride and a possibile space for a visitor centre. She also highlighted that there is ample room at the site for a transport hub that, linked in with local bus services, a park and ride, the walking and cycling track to the town centre and walking distance to the solar train, makes it ideal.

‘A sustainable solution is the Noosa and European option: control the amount of traffic coming in,’ she said.

‘The proposed bypass is not a solution. For the huge cost, financially and environmentally, it will only at best be a minor relief to the traffic woes.

‘The park and ride option was not previously affordable. Providing a free bus shuttle service comes at a cost but with the state government willing to hand up $10m, perhaps it could be put to better use?

‘It sounds grand but the bypass will still leave the community subsidising what could be an additional $20m for the bypass.’

Location an obstacle

According to Transport for NSW (TfNSW) the Cavanbah complex wasn’t considered suitable because it is 4km from town, that it didn’t ‘fit within the guidelines articulated in the Byron Bay Town Centre Masterplan’ and that the current location reflects the ‘guidance by Byron Shire Council, which heavily influenced the current placement of the interchange’.

However, Cr Basil Cameron told The Echo that he remains ‘of the view that the best location for a transport hub is in the Byron Bay Railway Station carpark.’

He believes this would be consistent with the Masterplan because it supports alternatives to car transport.

Lack of consultation

‘The lack of consultation with the community on the transport interchange is an insult to our community who have a history of active engagement in consideration of future development and character,’ continued Ms Barham.

‘The comments by TfNSW indicate their poor process of planning. They indicate the lack of sustainable thinking and in particular the denial that there are many opportunities for people to be transported from the Cavanbah site into the town centre.

‘These include transporting the elderly or people with disabilities. There is also potential to consider new electric vehicles that are in use in other locations in Australia and overseas that could create not only an effective but also a sustainable option for visitors.

‘In short their responses show a lack of creative and contemporary thinking in relation to problem solving,’ she said.

‘Further, the Masterplan is not a document that can be used to justify this proposal, as the Masterplan also includes comments regarding the need to lessen the impact of traffic on the town.

‘The town is greater than the commercial centre. The wider town area and in particular the heritage qualities of the town would be significantly impacted on by the transport hub and this has been ignored by the current proposal.

‘There are other solutions for the visitors.  It’s better to save what is precious and loved by so many than lose the low-key feel of the town that attracts visitors. 

‘Please, let’s just take the time to review the consequences before we end up with a vis-vest photo opportunity that would signal the loss of our special town and leave us all with a huge debt,’ said Ms Barham.

‘Please contact your councillors; it’s not too late.’

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