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Byron Shire
March 24, 2023

Wilsons Creek tourism DA knocked back after mayor ‘sacrifices’ casting vote

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Contentious plans for a tourist accommodation development in Wilsons Creek have been knocked back in dramatic circumstances by Byron Council.

Mayor Simon Richardson initially voted to approve the Development Application for seven cabins and a swimming pool at 58 Montecollum Road at Thursday’s council planning meeting.

But when the councillor vote was locked at 4-4, Cr Richarson used his casting vote to refuse the proposal on the grounds that this better reflected ‘the wishes of the council’.

A group of placard-carrying Wilsons Creek residents opposing plans for tourist accommodation in the town attended Byron Council’s planning meeting on August 15 Image: Paul Bibby.

The owners of the property and their supporters, mistakenly believing that their DA had been approved, burst into spontaneous cheers and applause when Cr Richardson cast the final vote.

But the celebrations turned to anger and disbelief when they realised their plans had been thwarted, with one shouting ‘this is bullshit!’.

Cr Richardson said he changed his vote because he believed that councillor Basil Cameron, who was absent due to ill-health, would have voted against the proposal had he been present.

‘It is my view that the casting vote should reflect the wishes of the council as a whole, not my personal wishes, and I believe Cr Cameron would vote against this, so this is my decision,’ Cr Richardson said.

Earlier, the meeting had been told that the developers had agreed to reduce the size and scale of the proposed development in a bid to gain approval.

This included reducing the size of the pool deck by 30 per cent and reducing the number of cabins from eight to seven.

This was designed to limit the number of guests congregating around the pool at any one time, thereby minimising the potential for excessive noise.

Council staff recommended approval of the development, declaring that it was ‘in accordance with the relevant planning controls that apply to the site and is unlikely to result in significant adverse impacts on the natural or built environment’.

But a group of around 30 Wilson’s Creek residents who attended the meeting strongly disagreed.

Speaking during the public access section of yesterday’s meeting, resident Ben Fawcett said there were ‘numerous anomalies and discrepancies’ between what was proposed and Council’s own policies for development of rural tourist cabins.

This included the location of the cabins on a steep, south-facing slope, the presence of a swimming pool just over 100 metres from neighbours, and the number and clustering of the cabins.

He also said that the rough, poorly-maintained road accessing the proposed development was unsuitable for the amount of traffic it would have to take, the impacts of which would be most keenly felt by neighbouring properties.

Independent councillor Cate Coorey put forward a motion that Council refuse consent for the development, and this was ultimately passed using the mayor’s casting vote.

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  1. One would think that legally approved accommodation would be in council’s interest . These people can you build a residential property and put it on Airbnb if they want . No permits . Go figure

  2. Maybe Simon knows he’s in deep shite and he’d better do some ‘good’ because people like me will be voting for Basil as Mayor over him in a year.

  3. So my question is this: on the one hand, council and residents are lamenting the lack of affordable housing because AirBNB (allegedly) takes up a lot of housing, but when the opportunity for new tourist accommodation comes up (that would take pressure off the AirBNB listings, and therefore free up more long term leases), council votes against it. Which one is which?

  4. Good on you Simon, (Mr Mayor)….BCOUNCIL has made some appalling decisions of late re the BYpass & little action on Belongil fish kills etc So so wonderful that Simon voted against this development .Many of the locals that will be impacted by this , were at the meeting & strongly opposed this development. Those that will be the MOST affected, need to have the top priority here . So much of the shire has been spoiled and over developed over the past 30 yrs, so lets say no to more development …at least for a few years if not into the long term. Simon Richardson needs to be applauded for this & needs to read the writing on the wall IF he wants to be elected again.

  5. This is bullying and bullshit !!!!!
    People that have the vision to dream big and make some thing beautiful for tourists to come and bring money in to the area and not just another Airbnb are being mocked down because of a few stupid small minded Nabours is ridiculous!!!! How can somebody vote for another member that’s not there ????? That just shows how bullshit this is !!!
    Any one that wants to develop and invest in future projects that would only benefit the shire should be helped and not stood on

    • Naomi, you sound like a typical developer who has no concerns about local residential amenity. Your attitude is bugger the neighbours and I will do want I want. The law does not apply to you and other developers (note the correct spelling for neighbours, Naomi).


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