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Byron Shire
September 21, 2021

Battle of the traffic assessments over large Byron DA

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Residents are keeping up the pressure over developer Graham Dunn’s plans to use a narrow residential laneway as the entry/exit point for the traffic exiting from his massive multi-level mixed use proposal, located on the corner block opposite Mitre 10 and Byron Music. 

The Browning Street Residents Group (BSRG) have paid for their own independent traffic assessment, which is at odds with the traffic assessment submitted within Dunn’s DA.

Submissions closed for DA 10.2019.616.1 on February 7, and it is now expected to be before Council sometime in May. The Echo understands the Northern Regional Planning Panel (NRPP) is not the authority, as it’s under the $30m threshold cap, at around $22m.

In 2018, Dunn’s first DA was rejected by the Northern Regional Planning Panel (NRPP), while Council planning staff inexplicably supported its approval.

Unlike the previous DA, the new DA offers ‘permanent residential accommodation with no short-term accommodation at all’ and Dunn claims to have made significant improvements to the DA, and engaged in extensive neighbour consultation.

But the DA exceeds height limits and breaches other policies.

The traffic report commissioned by affected residents says, ‘The potential for vehicles to attempt access [to] the site via the Tennyson Street connection to Ruskin Lane has not been assessed’.

‘These movements will cause unacceptable conflicts of two way traffic on a single carriageway’.

The original traffic report within the DA claims that, if approved, there would be just under 1,000 traffic movements in the laneway each day, based on the movements of residents and commercial customers.

But the residents’ traffic report says that this daily flow is in breach of the federal government’s AMCORD guidelines, as the environmental capacity of Ruskin Lane will be exceeded by 66 per cent in the morning peak hour (AM) and 20 per cent in the evening peak hour.

Yet Dunn says that is ‘incorrect’. He told The Echo, ‘The access to 139 Jonson Street is an augmentation of Browning Street, and the majority of vehicles will not be travelling along Ruskin Lane’.

The residents’ report continues, ‘These excess traffic flows will have a direct impact on all residents using Ruskin Lane, as they seek to enter or leave via the Browning Street section of Ruskin Lane.’

Their report claims the traffic assessment submitted within Dunn’s DA does not address conflicts between pedestrian/cycle movements on the Browning Street footpath and Jonson Street traffic to and from the proposed development. 

While the new report claims, ‘The arguments used to dismiss the alternative access off Jonson Street are not adequately supported,’ Dunn previously stated that, ‘We are required by Byron Shire Council’s Development Control Plan (DCP) to have rear lane access’.

‘This is a safer pedestrian option as concluded in the PlanIt report. Page 18 of the Byron Shire DCP 2014 for Commercial and Retail Development states that car parking access is preferably to come from rear lanes’.

Yet the BSRG says, ‘The DCP uses the discretionary word ‘preferred’ so it is not a mandatory provision.

‘As such, Council is required to weigh up specific proposals in the public interest’. They say in the context of laneways close to the town centre with commercial activity on both sides, ‘the provision cannot be taken to justify imposing heavy commercial traffic onto a residential access’.

Dunn told The Echo, ‘Greg Alderson and Associates undertook a traffic survey over a week, using a classified vehicle counter. Traffic counters were placed along Jonson and Browning Streets and Ruskin Lane to capture daily traffic and peak hour traffic surrounding the site. An additional 30 minute traffic survey was undertaken to confirm this traffic data and turning movements’.

Dunn’s proposal can be viewed at www.139jonson.com.au, while info from the Browning Street Residents Group can be found at their Hands Off Ruskin Lane Facebook page.

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  1. Its worth noting, that even with the neighborhood impacts adressed, that this pro development Mayor and council has extended the 3 storey limit to this previously 2 storey limit end of Jonson St, thus any eventual increased 3 storey development will increase all impacts both on the neighbors and on general CBD traffic. Previously the CBD planning was for 3 storeys in the central CBD, reduced to 2 storeys on the CBD edge. Councils new height increase will now facilitate a 3 storey gateway to the town centre. Benefiting who?

  2. When I was on Council I regularly saw developers cribbing a bit on development standards & the staff waving the proposal through. Quite a few times I remarked that it would be nice if the Police would do the same with those breaking the speed limit, or being just a few weeks out of rego.


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