A massive new 146 room hotel is proposed for the existing old Byron Woolies site, next to the Mercato shopping centre on Jonson Street.
But if you want to have your say on DA 10.2018.650.1, you better get in quick – you must register with the NSW Northern Regional Planning Panel (NRPP) before 4pm on September 14.
The panel will hear public submissions and determine the development on September 16 from 5pm.
Owing to COVID-19, the meeting will be held by teleconference.
To register, call 02 8217 2060 or email [email protected].
The unelected NRPP is tasked by the NSW government to determine large developments instead of elected councillors. Capital investment value of the development exceeds the $30 million threshold, and is $39,897,000.
Called Essence of Byron Hotel, the proposal is by Mercato’s developer, wealthy Gold Coast based businessman Robert Badalotti.
Leading up to the approval of Mercato’s development, Greens Mayor Simon Richardson lavished praise on Mr Badalotti, including supporting the developer’s wish to fast-track Mercato’s completion.
While that development attracted a lot of public criticism for it being out of character and too big for Byron, it was awarded Green Building Council Australia Five Star Green Star Retail Centre Design v1 2018.
At the May 2019 Council meeting, the mayor defended his private negotiations with the developer for the outcome. It emerged that only planning staff were present. The mayor defended the developer, by saying he had agreed to prohibit fast food multinationals in Mercato.
See the report here.
This week the mayor defended Council’s inability to control large developments for Byron’s CBD on social media.
Adrian Nelson said on Facebook, ‘Mercato is a shocker. Set the precedent for developers to now push the height controls’.
The mayor replied, ‘No it didn’t Adrian – it had the middle 10 per cent of the roof 10 per cent above in order to allow for natural ventilation. There are plenty of buildings in Byron already above height, and plenty before Mercato. Some developers may claim precedent, but that doesn’t make it so’.
So what’s proposed for Essence of Byron Hotel?
The large tourist and visitor accommodation building is 4,194m2 in size and would contain 146 rooms, function centre and retail premises (shops and food and drink premises).
According to the Council staff report, ‘The basement will connect to the existing basement carpark of the adjoining Mercato on Byron shopping complex’.
Rooms range in size from 25m2 to 45m2, with eight ‘dual-key rooms’.
The roof proposes ‘landscaped recreation/ function space containing a pool and adjacent deck and bar. Solar panels are proposed on the non-use roof areas’.
‘Development approval for that complex included a condition requiring road upgrade works in the adjacent Jonson Street. Those conditions have been challenged by the proponent of that development, resulting in Land & Environment Court proceedings’.
From the public submissions received, Council staff say all 423 are all opposed the proposed development
What does the Council staff report say?
Council’s major project planner Rob van Iersel recommend refusal, and says that ‘significant non-compliances with the planning controls remain’.
Predictably, height and floor space ratio variations (extensions beyond existing standards) are requested to maximise profits, with a request to vary clause 4.6 Variation to Floor Space Ratio and Height Controls.
The staff report claims the proponent is seeking a massive 41.5 per cent increase in Floor Space Ratio (FSR) and a height in places of 14.05m where the limit is set at 11.5m.
Refusal is based upon inconstancies with the State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP). They are Clause 7 of SEPP No. 44 Koala Habitat Protection, Clause 7 of SEPP No. 55 Remediation of Land, Clauses 10-15 SEPP (Coastal Management) 2018, Clauses 86, 101 & 104 SEPP (Infrastructure) 2007, Clause 2.3 Byron Local Environmental Plan 2014 – Zone objectives and land use table, Clause 4.6 Byron Local Environmental Plan 2014 – Exceptions to development standards, Clause 6.2 Byron Local Environmental Plan 2014 – Earthworks and Clause 6.6 Byron Local Environmental Plan 2014 – Essential Services.
A ‘key issue’, according to the staff report, is building height and floor space ratio.
Regarding the building height, the report reads, ‘While the majority of the building complies with the development standard, there are some roof-top elements that exceed the 11.5m maximum, with the maximum height being 14.05m’.
The rooftop elements that exceed 11.5m are set well back on the building, such they would not be visible from either side of Jonson Street immediately in front of the building.
These elements are set toward the southern edge of the rooftop. It is unlikely, therefore, that they would be visible when viewed from the north or north-east. The position of the Mercato on Byron development to the south means that they are also unlikely to be visible from the south-east.
‘It is considered that the exceedance of the maximum building height standard does not offend the public interest, as it is consistent with the objectives of the standard and the objectives for development within the zone in which the development is proposed to be carried out’.
Regarding the floor space ratio exceedance, the report reads, ‘This significant exceedance [at 41.5 per cent] results in a building of a scale that is inconsistent with the existing and desired future character of the Byron Bay Town Centre’.
Staff report conclusion
In conclusion, the staff report says, ‘The proposed development is not consistent with development standards within Byron Local Environmental Plan (LEP) 2014, specifically maximum building height and maximum floor space ratio’.
‘The result is a proposed building that would be inconsistent with the scale and character of existing development in the town centre and inconsistent with the desired future character.
‘Design of the building creates a number of significant access and movement issues, with potential pedestrian and vehicle conflicts and potential for queuing onto Jonson Street in peak times.
‘The proposed development is inconsistent with a number of provisions of Byron Development Control Plan (DCP) 2014, notable in relation to parking and access, and is not considered to be in the public interest’.