A 20-year strategy aimed at opening up land to business and industrial development will be tabled at this Thursday’s Council meeting, with rural land and CBDs evaluated by staff across Mullumbimby, Brunswick Heads, Ocean Shores, Bangalow, Byron Bay, and Billinudgel.
Extensive recommendations by staff within their Employment Lands Strategy (ELS) report have significant implications for future development/employment and biodiversity credentials for the Shire.
A staff push to abolish the building height limit of 11.5m (page 366) was met with opposition from public submissions. As a result, investigating an increase in building height up to 11.5m in Mullumbimby, Bangalow, and Brunswick Heads business centres will be removed from the strategy, along with the Byron Town Centre.
Other areas of the Shire are not mentioned. A new action was suggested, which is to ‘undertake an urban design review to determine appropriate building heights.’
Additionally, a ‘number of submissions raised matters concerning the currency, accuracy, and presentation of the data in the background report and ELS’.
Staff replied that technical data could be corrected or updated. ‘In revising, the information for the [town] centres there is a reasonable quantum of work; however, this would value add to the ELS’.
West Byron and Sunnybrand planning proposals are included, despite two West Byron DAs being rejected by the NRPP (formally the JRPP). The NSW office of environment and heritage (OEH) said key considerations for the area include, ‘flora and fauna, acid sulfate soils, coastal wetland with a high water table, and wildlife corridors’.
A proposed Bangalow industrial area extension, located on the northern side of Lismore Road and which adjoins the existing industrial area to the south is supported by staff. Another Bangalow industrial area extension proposal, located adjacent on Lismore Road, needed further investigation, say staff.
Developing land east of Banaglow was unsupported by the NSW planning department and community groups.
The feedback from Bangalow was that ‘a new supermarket is not needed’ and local food industries and farmers markets at all Shire centres should be supported instead.
Mullumbimby lands examined included a Manns Road lot, located west of the industry estate, and a 1ha parcel opposite Manns Road on Mullumbimby Road. A service station was proposed by the landowner, yet that was rejected by staff owing to ‘combined site constraints [including being flood prone] and isolation from the existing Mullumbimby urban area’.
Land near the Tyagarah highway interchange (Gulgan West and East) located near the Mevlana Estate generated mixed views, say staff. Further investigations into koala habitats and wildlife corridors, landscape buffers, and flooding constraints will need to be addressed.
As for Ocean Shores, staff suggest investigating an increase in floorspace ratio (currently 0.75:1) ‘to encourage redevelopment of OS centre.’
In Billinudgel, an extension of the southern precinct is proposed, while ‘a reduced footprint encompassing unconstrained land to the north of the proposed lot is supported.’
As for Brunswick Heads, staff say there were ‘mixed views on [the] concept to consolidate [the CBD] or change to the business zone in Fingal Street south’. There was no support for an increase in [building] heights. But staff say there was some support for ‘investigating an increase in floorspace ratio (FSR) in the B4 area (Tweed Street) up to 0.65:1 (currently 0.5:1) in order to incentivise small businesses and live/work opportunities.’
Saddle Road land late inclusion
A surprise late inclusion into the Employment Lands Strategy was lands at Saddle Road, which is owned by Kelvin and Skai Daly.
After Council invited them to submit their Bruns Eco Village (BEV) proposal, which led to subsequent plans to urbanise almost all of the ridgline, the plans folded after being rejected by Council.
Staff recommended approval of some of the Saddle Road land into the Employment Lands Strategy, located between Saddle Road and the highway interchange (Lot 2 DP 1159910).
A proposal by the applicant for lands located in lower areas, which straddle either side of Gulgan Road near the interchange, was rejected by staff.
The Echo asked staff why the late inclusion was accepted, and ‘doesn’t this conflict with and undermine the process leading to the Employment Lands Strategy?’
Staff did not reply to those questions and instead said, ‘As this land was only recently submitted for inclusion in the strategy there has not been time for staff to undertake consultation with the community or state agencies’.
‘Therefore the recommendations in the report include provision for additional engagement focusing on part of Lot 2 DP 1159910.
‘If approved by Council at the planning meeting on June 20, staff will undertake this engagement prior to the final Employment Lands Strategy being reported back to Council. Staff will then provide a recommendation to Council about this land’.
The Echo asked landowner Kelvin Daly why he applied for late inclusion into the Employment Lands Strategy. Kelvin’s wife Skai told The Echo, ‘With respect to the inclusion of the submission, Council’s process has been followed correctly’.
‘If I understand the strategy process, this is a merit-based system and, at the moment, the areas in question have sufficient merit to be explored further.
‘The suitability of the site was confirmed during the planning proposal. The site has only become visible to Council once the planning proposal was rejected.
‘This site now falls within the merit-based system of the Land and Employment Strategy to support a number of Shire initiatives, such as the Regional Produce Exchange. Work and gainful employment adjacent to a bus route providing 24 bus movements a day, mid-week, is important.
‘We certainly do not intend that our property will become an industrial estate.
‘Precinct A is less than 10 per cent of the total land and Precinct B and C is a further 16 per cent.
‘The community consultation will run the length of the process, when the picture becomes clearer’.
Skai added ‘We are only at the beginning of the strategy process’.