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Byron Shire
April 17, 2021

Last day for public submissions on Byron Bay mega hotel DA

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Paul Bibby

A group of Byron residents are urging locals to register their objections to the proposal for a mega hotel and function centre in the heart of Byron Bay, with public submissions closing today (Wednesday).

The developer behind Byron’s Mercato shopping mall is planning to build a sprawling $40m mixed-use development on the old Woolies site next door that significantly exceeds both height and floor space limits.

In a development application that was lodged just before Christmas, Mercato is proposing to build a 146-room hotel, function centre, and retail premises on the Jonson Street site.

An artist’s impression of the front of the 146-room hotel and function centre which Mercato wants to build on the old Woollies site on Jonson St Byron Bay

Named Essence of Byron, the three-storey development is topped with a private rooftop pool and bar that takes it more than 20 per cent above the 11.5m height limit for central Byron

The development’s 7,515 square metres of floor space also represents a 36 per cent exceedance of the floor-space ratio limit for this part of town.

With public submissions about the development closing today, a group of locals opposed to the plan are calling on others with similar views to register their opposition to the plan with Byron Shire Council.

‘This dreadfully inappropriate building is proposed to replace the old Woolworths site in the heart of Byron and has no character or any heritage elements to fit comfortably in our town,’ one of the residents, Maria Wood said.

‘It looks like a 1970s office block, is 2 stories right onto the footpath with no setback at all.

‘It would be great if the green roof was accessible to the whole town as an extra park or public space but this is something for the hotel only and dominates the street without a setback.

‘There is no adequate streetscaping.

‘This DA … has absolutely gone under the radar. It wouldn’t be allowed in Bangalow or Mullum as it just does not suit the character of the town in design or materials or presence, proportion or setback or greenscaping to the street’, she said.

A spokesperson for the developer said that only five per cent of the building’s footprint was above the height limit.

He also said that those components that did exceed the limit were set back from the road and would not be easily visible.

The proposed floor area was ‘necessary to support a viable hotel of this character’.

‘A comprehensive assessment has been undertaken, which demonstrates the proposal will not result in adverse built amenity impacts and will provide positive social and economic impacts for the Shire,’ the spokesperson said.

Those wishing to make a submission on the proposal can email council at [email protected] or call customer service on 02 6626 7000.

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  1. the spokesperson said the development, ‘….. will provide positive social and economic impacts for the Shire,’ What are these positive social impacts?

  2. Why has the Echo provided so little reporting on this? I’m reading about this now on Wednesday when its too late to submit anything. I recall a piecein the Echo quite some time ago pointing out the issue, but only now, is there attention to opposing the DA – on the day submissions close? I feel this publication has committed an extraordinary miscarriage in his mission in failing to provide us adequate scope and warning of this catastrophe and should be thoroughly ashamed of itself.

    • Rachel, Simon Richardson said on the radio yesterday that Council is allowing 2 or 3 days for people to finish off their submissions, so there is still a small window of time.

  3. The development proposes a rooftop pool, bar, dinning and function space for patrons as well as over 100 guests at weddings and the like. It also proposes approval to operate these rooftop areas until midnight every night. These will be totally unenclosed events that could generate a lot of noise from music in the hours up to midnight. The Rails operates as an outdoor unenclosed music venue and given some wind and atmospheric conditions can be heard all over town and inside our homes. But at least it closes a bit after 10 pm. This development is seeking approval to operate its unenclosed rooftop venue until midnight every night. Imagine the impact the music from such an elevated unenclosed position could do for residents trying to sleep in their homes in downtown Byron Bay.

  4. So called ‘Realpolitik’
    Do you even know what realpolitik is?
    Your claim is irrational, absurd, and incorrect. Actually, it’s wrong. Shame on anyone who utters such.
    I believe you are not a local, and clearly not someone that cares about the destruction of community, environment, infrastructure, social fabric, aesthetics, amongst many other precious and cherished components to life.
    Goodbye, we don’t need your dismissive attitude nor your presence here, it’s not welcome

  5. Just outside of the old woolies is an electrical box with a mural painted saying keep byron beautiful and its continually surrounded in trash outs a direlict woolworths building and carpark. The roads in and out of byron are atrocious and no by-road to divert traffic away from the centre of town. The council seems to enjoy collecting huge amounts of money from parking fines, rates and other penalties that only seem to hurt the youth and disadvantaged in the area. Whatever soul and character Byron had was lost decades ago so why not just give in and let it develop into NSWs version of surfers paradise. At least the gold coast doesnt pretend to be what it isnt. A bunch of range rover driving far left eco surf hippies…


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