Plans for a new Byron Bay bus interchange are on display, with Review of Environmental Factors (REF) up for public comment until June 6.
The proposed location on Butler Street is opposite Somerset Street and sits adjacent to the railway station, with the layout indicating an access roundabout at Butler Street.
Plans include an ‘allocated area for kiss and ride and taxi services, a new amenities building with a family-accessible toilet and an ambulant toilet, an upgraded pedestrian crossing to formally link to the town centre’, and, ‘three dedicated coach and bus bays’.
While no consultation was afforded the community for its location, The Echo understands that NSW infrastructure such as this does not require consultation.
In November 2017, The Echo reported that Council staff tried to force councillors to decide on the plans, which were initially slated for the Butler Street Reserve, in only a few days.
After discovering the market site was a contaminated former tip site, a new location was announced.
Greens mayor Simon Richardson says he and and former Council GM Ken Gainger travelled to Sydney to lobby the state government for the interchange’s new location, near the water tower, to be reduced in size.
Cr Richardson told The Echo, ‘We had no say in the decision to initially focus the interchange onto Butler Street Reserve’.
‘The interchange was thrust on us as part of an election promise at the previous election, announced by [Nationals candidate] Kris Beavis.
‘The original promise was for it to expand on where the bus stop currently sits [on Jonson Street].
‘We lobbied for it not to be in the current location, as it was overwhelmingly proposed and supported by the community to move the buses out of the centre of town and onto the other side of the rail corridor in order to help make town more people friendly’.
He said, ‘Our subsequent lobbying was to minimise the size and scale of the bus interchange. Initial designs in the location near the water tower had the footprint going almost to the rails platform; this would have taken up the whole corridor and made it impossible for any other use within the corridor.
‘We successfully lobbied for it to be pushed back and shrunk to be contained mainly behind the current fenceline. Now we will be able to open the corridor land to public use and reactivate the tracks for possible shuttle uses etc’.
Butler Street residents maintain they were never consulted about the project and say they are concerned about the increase in noise, lights, and traffic.
Costings for the project have been requested by The Echo, but are yet to be supplied by the government.
While the project’s authors claim, ‘The interchange design will incorporate and celebrate Byron Bay’s heritage’, it’s unclear how that will be achieved.
According to Transport NSW, ‘The Review of Environmental Factors (REF) is a planning document that outlines the proposed works of a project and assesses the potential impacts and identifies mitigation measures’.
To view the REF and supporting documentation, which includes 19 planning documents totalling 878 pages, visit the project website.
Community consultations with the project team are planned.
On Thursday May 30 from 8am till 11am, the team will be at the Byron Farmers Markets, Butler Street Reserve.
They will also be available June 2, from 8am till 3pm at the Byron Bay Community Markets, Butler Street Reserve, and a community information session is planned for Saturday June 1 at 1pm–4pm at the Byron Bay Community Centre.
The REF and design can be viewed at the Byron Shire Council foyer in Mullum and Byron Bay Library.
Submissions can be sent to [email protected]