Be aware of the Byron Shire Draft Residential Strategy 2019 (DRS)

Jeff Harrison, Sunrise

Home-owners in Sunrise Beach Estate and South East Byron Bay Town should be aware of the Byron Shire Draft Residential Strategy 2019 (DRS) – especially how future infill development may impact their neighbourhood.

The DRS has created ‘Residential Character Narratives’ (DRS pgs 77–81) to determine how infill development could be implemented to accommodate the expected increase in housing required in the Shire over the next few decades.  ‘Sunrise Area E1’, or ‘older Sunrise’, is described as ‘original homes… typically brick and tile, well set back from the street with relatively large lots and lawn areas’. It has ‘a distinctly different character’ to Area E2 (Habitat) and Area E3 (Arts & Industry Estate). 

Suffolk Park has been divided into Area D1 (East) and Area D2 (West). 

Byron Bay town has been divided into Area A (Town) and Area B (South/East).

Areas B, D1, and D2 have all been described in terms of a mixture of original detached houses on large lots, and semi-detached low-rise developments – as has Sunrise Area E1. But they have also been attributed with some ‘leafy’ qualities that Sunrise Area E1 is devoid of.

The DRS then creates ‘Character Categories’ which it uses to map a future infill development strategy.  Two Character Categories are relevant to the above Areas (DRS pg 82):

Subtle: small clusters of low rise medium density complementing existing form – likely to be incremental with many of existing elements remaining.

Transitional: earmarking an area of change incorporating pockets of low rise medium density … how the area will look and feel in the future is likely to evolve, and in some cases notably.

All of Sunrise Area E1 and Byron Town Area B have been mapped ‘Transitional’ (DRS pg 82). All but a few blocks in Suffolk Park Area D1 and a strip in Suffolk Park Area D2 are mapped as ‘Subtle’.

Presumably, this mapping anomaly is created by the narrative that, when considering future development in Suffolk Park, ‘it is important that future infill development… compliments the low scale character and natural landscape qualities of this area’ (DRS pg 80). 

It’s perplexing that Sunrise Area E1 and Byron Area B are not afforded the same consideration. Like many proud home-owners in our neighbourhood, we have spent significant time, effort and expense renovating, extending, and maintaining our property. It’s alarming that future infill development should impact the ‘look and feel’ of our local community ‘and in some cases notably’.

A strategy is important to accommodate expected future residential growth in Byron Bay. But the impact of growth on existing neighbourhoods could be ameliorated if planned infill developments are more evenly distributed.

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