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Byron Shire
April 22, 2021

Planning secretary meets with residents over West Byron

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Suffolk Park Pump Track

We the ‘Engaged Neighbours’, on behalf of the Suffolk Park pump track’s affected neighbours and 300–400 petitioners and letter writers, request Council NOT to continue to bulldoze the large fenced in section of Linda Vidler Parkland adjacent to Baz and Shaz’s shop, close to the houses on three sides.

Aslan Shand

West Byron site is still in question with the development application (DA) by the R&D Group, the developers for one of the two proposals for the site, due to come before the Land and Environment Court in February 2020. 

In light of the R&D court case and the second DA from Villa World also having been rejected by the Northern Regional Planning Panel (NRPP) in April this year, the Byron Residents Group (BRG) sought a meeting with the minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes to discuss rezoning the West Byron Urban Release Area. 

The West Byron Villaworld proposal could lead t over 400 houses on the site. Image supplied.

They were offered a meeting with the deputy secretary Marcus Ray from the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment on behalf the minister and Cate Coorey, Dailan Pugh, and Andrew Murray had a meeting with Mr Ray on Thursday July 25 on behalf of the BRG. 

Dailan Pugh said they were given a fair hearing for an hour, though Mr Ray made it clear that they would wait until after the February court challenge before they would consider doing anything for West Byron, and that they had no money or intent to purchase all or part of the properties.

‘This was very disappointing, because when we had briefed Mr Stokes when he was previously Planning minister he admitted that there were problems with the zoning, and even the premier Gladys Berejiklian admitted last August that it was too big to impose on the community,’ said Mr Pugh.

Both DAs rejected

‘This government inserted the rules for this monstrosity of West Byron into Byron Shire’s LEP (Local Environment Plan). Now that the NRPP has rejected both development applications the government must act to fix their mess. It is not good enough for them to continue to sit on their hands.

‘We were also disappointed to find out that Byron Shire Council has still not submitted their proposed rezoning for the site to the Department of Planning despite adopting it in April.’

Director Sustainable Environment and Economy Shannon Burt  has responded, saying that ‘This is a complex site and Council staff have had to do a significant body of work to support the submission to the NSW minister for Planning’. 

‘This process is currently being finalised.’

Meanwhile Villa World has agreed to a $293.6m takeover bid by private-equity-backed Avid Property Group, The Australian Financial Review (Nine) reported on July 7.

Mr Pugh also said that if the rumors that Villa World had pulled out of the West Byron development were true, ‘We hope that the remaining owners, Tower Holdings, listen to community concerns and heed the significant environmental constraints to come up with a more appropriate development. They should also consider offering to sell all or part of their lands to the government.’

Villa World withdrawal? 

However, speaking to The Echo, a Villa World spokesperson refused to confirm or deny the rumours that they may be pulling out of the development. 

Villa World and Tower Holdings have six months from the date of the NRPP refusal of their DA to submit an appeal; that time has not yet expired. 

Tower Holdings were contacted for comment, but did not respond before deadline.

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