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Byron Shire
May 8, 2021

Essence of Byron mega hotel rejected by govt panel

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Essence of Byron Hotel plans for the old Byron Woolies site

A massive proposal for a 146 room tourist hotel proposal at the old Byron Woolies site has been knocked back over exceeding the floor space ratio (FSR) by 41.5 per cent.

Located next to the Mercato Shopping complex, Essence of Byron (DA 10.2018.650.1) attracted 423 public submissions against (none in favour), accord the staff report, which also recommended refusal.

The government appointed NSW Northern Regional Planning Panel (NRPP) considered the hotel DA on Wednesday afternoon via teleconference. The Echo understands the vote was unanimous.

The Byron Residents’ Group (BRG) said in a statement, ‘The panel chair said they were to decide on three things: 1. variation to height standard; 2. variation to Floor Space Ratio; and, subject to their decision on accepting 1 and 2, 3. consenting to the development’.

‘Their finding was that: 1. they could accept a height variation; 2. they could not accept the FSR variation so, therefore, 3. they did not then give consideration to consenting to the development.

‘In short, the panel says no!

‘Thanks to the Planning Panel and to our wonderful community members who spoke so well (in difficult circumstances as we were all in a phone conference).  Thanks also to Council staff who stood up for the building controls that this community supports.

‘Thanks to the 432 BRG supporters who took the time to make a submission. It makes all the difference!’

Prior to the Mercato build, Greens Mayor Simon Richardson posed for a picture with Mercato builder Scott Hutchinson and developers Mark Harrison and Rob Badalotti. Photo Jeff Dawson

Meanwhile, former Greens mayor and NSW MLC made a submission against, and told The Echo, ‘No doubt [the developer] will come back again with another version, but for now, the scale and character of the town is a bit safer with the refusal of the exceedance of the LEP rules’.

She said the only argument in favour by the developer was that it reflects their Mercato Shopping complex, located next door.

That building was built by Gold Coast based developer Robert Badalotti, who is also seeking to use the precedent for his latest hotel.

Ms Barham said, ‘The panel accepted that the character of the rest of town is not reflected by Mercato, or what was proposed’.

Ms Barham said key issue for her was the possible radiation residue, ‘But we didn’t get to that, as the first step in the panels determination was the whether the variations to height and floor space ratio were accepted’.

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  1. Another massive over development of a site is the DA for 2 Jonson St Byron Bay which interestingly has not received any reporting in the Echo.

  2. The biggest 2 issues which will determine what Byron Shire looks like when today’s children start voting are 1. The prospect of a huge dam at Dunoon & 2. The proposed re-classification of the rail corridor as Crown Land (so it can be sold off to developers – mostly adjacent landowners for a song). Once only 1 portion of the corridor is lost, so too will any prospect of a rail line to Byron in the next generation. I’m not suggesting the owners of the old Woolworths site are involved in any conspiracy, but if the railway land becomes available, why wouldn’t they be interested?

  3. This shows that the new Woolworths complex by Mercato shouldn’t have been approved either. Once these vultures get their foot in the door that’s it. The rejection is good news but they will just keep trying. Keep up the fight BRG!


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