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Byron Shire
May 18, 2021

Have Byron Council staff locked themselves into approving large rural cabin developments?

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Staff at Byron Council locked themselves into recommending the approval of a seven-cabin tourism development in Wilsons Creek by approving a similar development earlier in the year, the president of the Community Alliance for Byron Shire (CABS) says.

The proposal for seven tourist cabins at Montecollum Rd Wilsons Creek was ultimately rejected by Byron Council at its August planning and development meeting.

The proposed site of seven cabins for rural tourist accommodation in Wilsons Creek. Photo supplied.

However, staff had recommended approval of the proposal.

CABS President Matthew O’Reilly believes staff made this decision because they were guided by an ‘undesirable precedent’ they themselves had set when they approved a DA at 725 Myocum Road, Myocum under delegated authority.

‘The approval of seven cabins should never have been made under delegated authority as it appears to have set an undesirable precedent that Councillors are now expected to comply with,’ Mr O’Reilly said.

‘It was the first ever DA in Byron Shire to approve more than six cabins.

‘Up until that point there had never been more than six rural tourist cabins approved on one property.’

Part of the reason for the approval at Myocum Rd appears to have been a lack of clarity in Council’s planning policies in relation to rural cabins.

While the Byron Rural Settlement Strategy 1998 (BRSS) and the Byron Local Environment Plan 1988 (LEP) both stipulated that a maximum of six cabins was permitted in rural-zoned areas, the Byron LEP 2014 and the Byron Development Control Plan 2014 (DCP) are silent on a maximum number of cabins.

The latter documents instead refer to a maximum number of bedrooms.

Mr O’Reilly said he believed the omission of a maximum number of cabins was a drafting error on the part of council staff that needed to be rectified.

‘I think they just made an error in the drafting and left it out,’ Mr O’Reilly said.

‘These things happen, it’s human error. But I think it needs to be fixed and will hopefully be fixed.’

Further complicating the issue is the fact that, in at least in some parts of the Shire, the BRSS and the 1998 LEP still appear to apply, while in other areas there are overlapping policies that must be considered when determining applications.

When asked about this situation and the role of the Myocum Rd precedent, Council’s chief planner, Shannon Burt, said all development applications were assessed on their merits, including 58 Montecollum Road.

‘Council has the tricky role, particularly in rural parts of the Shire, of trying to balance people’s desire for no development against the rights of land owners to develop their properties,’ Ms Burt said.

‘To try to make it clear to people what the rules and regulations are we are now reviewing the planning controls for cabins and other dwellings on rural land to eliminate confusion in the Local Environment Plan and Development Control Plan.

‘We are hoping to present this review and recommendations back to Council early next year.’

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  1. But landholders do not have the right to blunder their way through the smoke and dust of Council gobbledygook when there is a lack of clarity. Ms Burt seems to agree with CABS that there is a lack of clarity.
    There is a lack of clarity as a fact when there is now a review of planning on cabins. A halt to development on cabins was needed when there is a lack of clarity as it results in different outcomes and is shown in this article.
    Councillors need more backbone to follow what is right for the community when council elections are next year. If councillors locked themselves in, then they can also be locked out.
    This issue is much like the Butler Street Bypass.

  2. It’s no surprise that the council is becoming more capitalist and pro development with the changing demographic coming and living in Byron Shire. Look at all the construction that has happened in the last few years.We now have Cr. Paul Spooner telling the ‘local’ newscorp owned Byron News that it’s the previous locals fault that Byron is the way it is now because of their ostrich politics. Perhaps he has got his own head stuck somewhere?
    I know people who work at the council and they have told me Byron Council isn’t ‘Green’ any more. Byron is now the biggest tourist spot in NSW outside of Sydney and the more money it generates the more taxes the NSW state government gets. The last state election was proof of how keen they are with every candidate throwing money at the electorate.
    Maybe there is something wrong with me cause I think massive tourism numbers and overdevelopment is a bad thing. Everyone seems to think money is everything, like what else is there in life. Perhaps dignity, intelligence and respect are overrated. It will be interesting to see how the local elections go.

  3. Why do Council staff or some Councillors feel they need to keep passing D.A.s just to keep people happy who want to make a buck ?

    If the results of the last local election showed us anything it was that people voted to keep Byron Shire as natural as possible.

    This Shire has a history of fighting the status quo, so people who want to foist weddings or holiday cabins on us incessantly should try another Shire.

    Me and a lot of other people don’t care about YOUR plans for OUR Shire !!!

    Council has an obligation to us, the residents who made this place what it is, to keep Byron unique, if it’s not too late already.

  4. What wrong? the Echo doesn’t like me criticizing councilors?

    Never thought I’d see the day that the Echo moderated on free speech.

    I think it’s pathetic that you haven’t published an article criticizing Cr Pool Spooner and what he said about disrespecting the work and ideals of the previous residents and councillors.

  5. At least it’s approved accommodation with these developers paying contributions to council and they are not going down the path of unapproved holiday letting.


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