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Byron Shire
May 23, 2024

Greens-dominated council paves paradise – again…

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Scarrabelottis lookout. Photo Aslan Shand.

Anthony Stante

It’s a high-end dining restaurant that will now be built in one of the most beautiful, tranquil spots that is beloved by local people and visitors to the Byron Shire. A tragedy made real by the greed of developers, and the failure of councillors and Council staff to protect the public interest in the face of these endless development challenges.

Right now, it is the quiet, serene lookout that the Scarrabelotti family, who donated the land to the community, wanted it to be – a joy for the community to experience. But as Joni Mitchell would say, the Byron Shire Council have agreed to ‘pave paradise… to put up a parking lot’. 

I spoke against the proposed development, as it is currently detailed, at last Thursday’s Council planning meeting, on the grounds of road safety but, as usual, it did not matter in the end. We didn’t bother bringing up other issues like amenity, impact on the escarpment, noise, additional traffic in a koala corridor; as these seem to have no impact on our Councillors opinions.

Not for locals

The development application was approved – for a restaurant (with a wonderful view) that very few residents will likely ever be able to afford to enjoy.

A planning condition covering road safety was not even considered important enough to be formulated. That is what Council thinks about your safety, despite having a duty of care, and moral obligation, to ensure safe roads are provided for ratepayers to travel on. Only Cr Cate Coorey objected to the development.

Our family lives just down from the lookout, and we use this road every day. We have serious road safety concerns with the development, because only 15 parking spots have been provided by the developer. The restaurant will be a 40-seat fine-dining restaurant, and blind Freddy can see a functional requirement of 20 to 25 parking spots for a venue with 40 diners plus staff and with no public transport access in the hinterland of Byron Shire.

The lookout already has limited parking, Coolamon Scenic Drive has a narrow road shoulder, and the resulting uncontrolled vehicle and pedestrian movements will cause safety issues. This is an 80km/h zone, where speeding is common, and with poor sight distance in both directions. As a result, the precinct must now have a 60km/h safety zone approved.

Why, when the Mayor noted at the previous meeting that he believed at least 20 plus standalone parking spots would be required for both staff and patrons, did he allow the approval?

The development needs at least ten additional parking spots on the developers land. However, the developer told me outside the Council meeting that he is unable to fit more parking on the site due to the steep terrain and the competing need for space for effluent treatment so that 40 seats can be accommodated. How can effluent needs be driving the parking and road safety outcomes? Crazy stuff.

The previous voluntary agreement, providing for some overflow parking in the lookout was torn up, yet we still have overflow parking, with councillors choosing not to pursue a formal agreement to protect the ratepayers. Faulty Towers stuff – but only the developer is laughing it seems.

Detriment of locals

Councillors openly acknowledged that this development would cost the ratepayers significant sums in regards to future management of the site owing to the restaurant being approved.

They also recognised that it is likely that an extension for opening hours will be requested, following the initial approval that limits it to breakfast and lunch only. This will most likely be based on the claim that the business is struggling. Councillors have approved it, knowing that the business model being proposed is likely to fail; and that they will ultimately approve the extension of trading that will come with significant associated nighttime noise impacts on adjacent residents.

As the approval decision was coming to its inevitable conclusion, Cr Basil Cameron noted that, sadly, he believed Council did not have the power to reject the proposal. This was based on the fact that the lookout was designated a road reserve for access to adjacent properties, and because the Council had never designated it as community open space.

He also observed that the access situation in the lookout itself and adjacent Coolamon Scenic Drive will likely get very ugly owing to multiple competing needs.

As locals, unfortunately we will need to wait for safety incidents, serious injuries or worse, then kick up a stink and hope that finally someone will do something about our safety, which Council has a duty of care to provide.

I am not 100 per cent sure how we got to this situation, but it’s ended in farce. It will certainly be an ongoing issue with no upside for the local community who made 20 plus formal objections to the development – which were largely ignored.

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  1. Sounds like Cr Cameron & maybe others have been horsewhipped into a position where they vote for something they don’t like because the prospects if a successful defence of a refusal are uncertain. As a councillor, I often voted against a development I thought was wrong, in these circumstances. If the staff has recommended approval, a vote for refusal means external resources need to be employed to defend an appeal. But there have been plenty of cases where such a defence has been successful.

  2. I am shattered … again

    Four years ago many of us worked our butts off to ensure a good Council would take us through the next 4 years.

    The voters gave the incoming Council a mandate … TO KEEP BYRON SHIRE SAFE FROM OVER-DEVELOPMENT !!!

    Now, the Greens pro-development Council has again shown what a traitorous, self-serving bunch of politicians they are.

    We are supposed to be having an election this year. I was looking forward to getting rid of a Council I personally helped get elected.

    But now they have another year to keep trashing Byron Shire and disrespecting the voters who put them there.

    Simple Simon has already stated that he is not running again.


    At least have the moral fortitude to not make any more decisions that will affect the rest of us citizens.

    You and your fellow Councillors are a shame to the once great Greens name and your legacy will be seen as sinking a few more nails into the Byron Shire coffin !

  3. I couldn’t agree more
    I am nearly killed daily in Seven Mile Beach rd after years of letters for a management plan,
    The fact that our councillors made it a priority to even assess this given the absolute danger that presents around the Shire which needs urgent attention from management and compliance. I need not even mention the lack of disregard for our areas of biodiversity and environment that constantly plays second fiddle

  4. I am really tired of this council and staff selling out our community, instead of upholding their duty of care and acting with integrity under the premise of why they were actually elected. This development is yet another example of inappropriate use of what was deemed community land.

  5. How is what has been donated to the community going to benefit the community if it’s a high-end swish restaurant?? This is all about benefiting the corporations and the elite. Byron Shire Council, unfortunately, is like all other councils. Money talks and does not benefit the community in any way.

  6. The approval of Scarrobelotti’s lookout is a tragedy. I am surprised Cr Cameron would support the application. Crs MUST take a stand against inappropriate commercial developments despite fear of a court challenge. Byron Shire is popular today because councillors in the past had a sense of how important protection of our natural assets are and were principled enough, with support from an active community, to vote accordingly. Principles matter and should form the basis of decision making. This look-out has always been a special place for locals and the community to take in unsurpassed views over the valley, to the expansive coastline. It is unthinkable for it to be developed in such a manner.

  7. I must have visited another lookout. The one I visited had evidence of illegal camping, toilet paper and accompanied excreta as well as a broken down faded shelter that was graffitied and tired. It too was called Scarrabelottis Lookout. This lookout was in need of a managed makeover with a proper gate managed by an onsite facility (like a restaurant or some such). This would allow for real enjoyment by all without the need to dodge human droppings and broken infrastructure. I hope the the Lookout mentioned in this article is likewise saved.

  8. Neglect by council and abuse by illegal campers is not an excuse to give away public amenity. Using that argument council would be able to give developers just about every public park in Byron Bay!

  9. So a managed makeover automatically means another highend restaurant for affluent blow ins pretending to be escaping their privileged existence while they post themselves and their artificially “beautified” friends enjoying the rural lifestyle.
    How about some minimal Council funding to protect and maintain areas like this.
    Then again, the area is f..ked anyway and most people that enjoyed it for what it was in past decades have long since given up on the Town that consumed itself with greed and pretention!

  10. First, power was surreptitiously transferred from local government to state, allowing Woolworths to bully it’s way into Mullum despite the majority of the town vehemently protesting that development, then came the bloody telco towers disturbing the Schumann resonances from every hill and uglifying pristine landscape, immediately followed by the chemtrails, who knows what for, maybe to strengthen the signals between towers by drying out the atmosphere (?), then the main road development into the shire, making the landscape for years into an open cut mining operation for a road more like a military runway, whilst leaving danger zones all over the place from local roads joining that new one, and never keeping up with maintenance of potholes and soft edges on local roads which kill good people to this day. Why be surprised by this latest bit of nonsense.

  11. When a Council bows before Crony interests the back patting/scratching forms a congo line of favours, tricksters and $$$ benefits that flow to the elite and render communities in a growing state of poverty. This is the real virus that underlies corrupt Governments. The literature abounds with such research that likens these methods as ‘mafia’ like.
    Compound this behaviour with the fact that ICAC has been massively de-funded by Gladys, NSW Government Head Prefect. This existing situation has been described by Brett Walker SC as ‘unlawful’ and exists as a total attack on Democratic structures, well meaning communities, bio-diversity and Human/Environmental RIGHTS.
    ‘Rights” are rectified by the human struggles enacted by a powerful Civil Society. Australians are ‘gutsy’ folk. Prune the political Tree or choose to be governed by Cronies and their glassy eyed minions.

  12. It’s going to be a restaurant with a view.
    It’s not a new idea and you may as well blow against the wind.
    What did you think would happen to a place like this? Grow up.

  13. Sounds like the ‘Green’ Councillors have been bought out or out-manoeuvered…why did the Council staff recommend approval? On what grounds? The article doesn’t say. It would be interesting to see what and who influences these council staff as they make such recommendations….

  14. Has BSC policy on the impact on visual amenity for ridgetop & escarpment developments been quietly rescinded? It used to be a factor considered by BSC in assessing DA for monstrosities on ridgetop and the escarpment, with consent conditions aimed at limiting said visual impact when viewed by peasants to the east and below.
    So how is this one different?
    And why is it an exception?
    Is it now open slather to build ugly Mac-mansions along the skyline now the precedent has been set?
    Or is this just another case of BSC & elected councillors ignoring – yet again – a DCP / LEP / policy / strategy / regulation / law / licence conditions?


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