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Byron Shire
February 2, 2023

Editorial – Look, over there! A virus is a great distraction

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Hans Lovejoy, editor

Preparations for a second COVID-19 wave have presumably been put in place by health authorities and the governing class. Why else would they want to risk people’s lives? It’s not like they have been wrong before, right? It seems like the collective mood is that we have all had enough, and we did well to avoid a catastrophe. It’s time to get back to whatever is constituted as normal.

Will the local governing class (Council) change their perception of ‘normal’ development? Presently, this community still faces the never-ending barrage of growth opportunities (ie strategies, plans and policies), which have been foisted upon us by the NSW government and Council planning staff.

It’s clear councillors who control the chamber gave up a long time ago in trying to manage, let alone direct, Council planning staff in a way that was reflective of what residents voted for in the 2016 election.

At this Thursday’s Council planning meeting for example, councillors will consider a long list of large DAs and planning policies which will impact this community now, and in the future.

One is a new code that would allow developers to fast track within 20 days the building of dual occupancies, manor houses and terraces (up to two storeys) in residential areas.

The Low Rise Medium Density Code has been introduced to 82 NSW councils, say the NSW planning department.

Thankfully the code was deferred in Byron Shire, but now it’s back, with staff recommending adoption.

Local NSW MP, Tamara Smith (Greens), told Echonetdaily she encourages councillors ‘to hold the line’ and resist introducing the code for another 12 months. ‘It should be deferred, particularly in the context of the pandemic,’ she said. ‘We are in no shape to weather a sudden uptake in development through this code’.

Echonetdaily is yet to hear back from local Nationals MLC Ben Franklin on whether he is seeking to have the code deferred given his concerns about West Byron and over-development in the past.

Echonetdaily also asked Greens Mayor, Simon Richardson, if this code will negatively impact the amenity of residents, and if it was correct that the NSW planning minister offered Byron Council a longer exemption than was allowed, yet that offer was never pursued by Council. There is yet to be a reply.

Given the preliminary result from the Greens preselection last week, the direction of the mayor and his Greens councillors is clearly not supported. Hopefully the current Greens councillors are humble enough to accept the direction taken in the past four years was not reflective of the wishes of the membership, nor the wider community, and will adjust their views for the remainder of their term.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. I’d say all or any distractions are seen as
    necessary, dumb or otherwise. What is
    A ‘normal’ development in these days?
    I just shake my head. It’s a lot like the
    joke ‘Pine Gap is a necessity.’

  2. We have a problem with climate change which was caused by our growth economic policies . We have a problem with pandemics also caused by growth and its transmission accelerated by high density living. And we leave the solution to these problems to those that created them, economists.

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