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Byron Shire
September 21, 2021

Tales of urbanisation in rural landscapes

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Hilarie Dunn and Geoffrey Cotton and the site of the development in the middle distance. Photo Eve Jeffery.

Story & photo Eve Jeffery

A development planned for Eureka has some of the locals pretty upset at what they see as Byron Shire Council breaking its own rules to accommodate the construction of 15 ‘rural living lots’ on what is currently farmland.

The DA, lodged by EGS Investments Pty Ltd, is for 149 Federal Drive, Eureka, and seeks to convert what the locals see as ‘a viable operating macadamia orchard and cattle grazing property’ to a Community Title (CT) development. 

Hilarie Dunn’s residence will be in full view of two of the five, three-dwelling clusters and she is at a loss to understand why they are going ahead.

‘The DA is seeking to replace a large macadamia farm and cattle property with 15 residential blocks. It is completely at odds with the Council’s own strategy for the Byron Shire – in particular the Byron Rural Land Use Strategy (RLUS) 2017 and the Byron Local Environment Plan.’

Pleas for Byron Council to follow its own regulations – again

Ms Dunn says she feels the development will rob the Shire of prime agricultural land forever.

‘I want the Council to follow its own guidelines and reject this proposal. At the very least, reduce the scale of it maybe to five or six.’

Ms Dunn says the residents of Eureka have made numerous submissions that have clearly stated why this development is too big for Eureka.

‘Our objections seem to have made no impression on Council.’

The residents also feel it is unfair that most of the councillors spent time at the property, yet they were only given five minutes to speak to Council themselves. They say that their submissions were summarily dismissed and that no community consultation took place.

The agenda for a Council planning meeting about the DA, dated May 16, 2019, does appear to have responses for most of the two dozen submissions which opposed the DA.

But on the question of the lack of community consultation prior to lodgement, the agenda reads: ‘While community consultation prior to lodgement is ideal, it is not a legislative planning requirement.’

Another resident, Geoffrey Cotton, says that the land is State Significant Farmland, and should be protected from competing uses like residential development.

‘There are two big problems here. The first is the loss of top-quality agricultural land and the second is the issue of the responsibility of development applicants to provide full and honest information, and to support any claims they make’.

Councillor replies

Echonetdaily contacted all of the Byron Shire councillors. Cr Alan Hunter is so far the only one to respond.

Cr Hunter said he reviewed his notes, conditions of consent, and the staff recommendations in relation to this DA to further confirm Council’s decision.

‘There is an expectation by some in the Byron community that neighbours have a right to veto a neighbouring development application. That is not the case. Neighbours and the broader community are invited, through the public exhibition process, to raise with our professional planning staff their concerns about the likely impacts of such development.

‘Council rarely hears from anyone happy with a development application, most accept the process and get on with their life.

‘In this case, many issues were raised, but the issue most concerning to Council was the use of the 15 dwellings, and to not allow holiday letting and the associated negative impacts to become an issue in the future, so that was addressed in the resolution.

‘It is a large block of land and now more families can enjoy a rural lifestyle in the highly sought after coastal hinterland environment’.

Yet the residents don’t see it that way. Ms Dunn says, ‘I can’t afford to fight this by myself. Council needs to protect our countryside and agricultural land’.

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  1. Go the Council !

    Rural weddings, now this kind of development.

    More loss of flora and fauna so, as Cr Hunter puts it,”more families can enjoy a rural lifestyle in the highly sought after coastal hinterland environment’.

    Once again, the clear mandate given to this Council at the last election was overwhelmingly keeping the Shire safe from over development, especially in rural areas. Keeping the things that make Byron Shire what it is … or sadly now, was !

    More proof that the Greens are more about ‘social’ issues than environmental ones. These were the values that made the Greens into a political force. Now they are lost !

  2. Here, at Boat Harbour, right next door to the Cameron Road development, we understand Geoffrey and Hilary’s concerns.
    The Cameron Road houses with ‘rural views’ were placed on the ridge above the Boat Harbour valley, changing forever the country character of the whole area. Sydney suburbia has arrived 10 kms outside Lismore. There’s no town sewerage, many more dogs and cats, and double the traffic on rural unmarked roads.
    The death of a 9 year old child from a car hit soon after that family had moved into their new home, was a wake up call for us all. The place had changed forever.
    It is understandable that people need homes. It is up to our Councils to plan sustainable and sympathetic development anprojects that conserve the character of their precincts Instead, at the moment, the developers seem to be in charge as they push Councils to do their bidding.

  3. Hmmmm. “State Significant Farmland,” ?
    If so, why is it being wasted on the most toxic and environmentaly destructive landuse, of macadamias and semi feral beef cows ? Sure, it is easy to see that some will see this as an errosion of their lifestyle but this is not only inevitable, but encouraged as a result of tourism campaignes and P.R. extolling the wonders of Byron Bay and the ‘Hinterland”. I believe it was The Eagles who wrote “You call some place paradise, kiss it goodbye”
    Get used to the idea, all this wonderful environment will be packaged up and sold to the highest bidder, that is the Australian way ! That is the Western way, that is capitalism at work.
    Cheers, G”)

  4. It’s time for residents to step up and save our rural environment from suburbanisation. Talk and write to your local councillors and the NSW Minister for Planning about strengthening and exercising planning laws. Newcomers think about the effect of subdividing your rural block, siting your new home on a ridge line, not controlling your cat, building suburban fences, putting in a pool, installing intrusive and powerful outdoor lighting. Let’s name and shame these backdoor developers that get DA’s through the system claiming they can provide ‘affordable housing’, or “housing for rural workers” or will commence environmental restoration with often no or little legal requirement to actually do so. If council is bullied by threat of legal action, community can take action by not supporting these developers and businesses that support them. Who are the people behind EGS Investments that think it’s ok to wreck our rural community in Eureka you are not welcome!


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