Byron Council has produced a ‘secret’ report on potential development sites in Mullumbimby, including Council-owned land near the Community Gardens, the Mullumbimby Residents Association (MRA) says.
In a letter to The Echo, the association’s convenor, Sonia Laverty, said Council had formed a ‘consortium’ with a group of private landowners in the town with the intention of building more housing.
Ms Laverty said part of this process involved writing a Mullumbimby Land Release Assessment (MLRA) exploring the development potential of a number of green field sites around the town.
This includes Lot 22, a Council-owned site adjacent to the Community Gardens, which has been the subject of significant debate within different sections of the Mullumbimby community.
‘The work of this private/Council consortium has never been advertised,’ Ms Laverty said.
‘Its report, The Mullumbimby Land Release Assessment has not been made available for public viewing or comment.
‘Nor have Council’s cost sharing arrangements with the private consortium been made public.
‘The apparent secrecy which surrounds this report is of concern and very different to the “openness” of the structure of the committee for the North Byron Floodplain Risk Management Study and Plan (FRMS&P).’
Ms Laverty said the report not been made public, despite requests to this effect from her association, and assurances from senior Council officers that it would be released.
‘MRA also understands that the MLRA report has never been presented, in any form, to the FRMS&P committee for endorsement of any kind.
Right to know
‘We have a right to know what is in the report. As a first step the adoption of the North Byron Floodplain Risk Management Study & Plan should be deferred until the Mullumbimby Land Release Assessment has been released publicly.’
Independent Councillor Michael Lyon confirmed the existence of the MLRA.
‘We desperately need new, affordable housing and this report assesses the suitability of Lot 22 in Mullumbimby and the surrounding properties for that purpose’.
‘We needed a separate report, which is part-funded by the property owners and by Council, to evaluate the suitability of this land for housing.
Will be released eventually, says Cr
‘The floodplain committee will get access to the report well before it gets debated by councillors and gets voted on’.
The use of the Lot 22 site for affordable housing has been the subject of debate within the community for around three years.
The Council sees the site as a vital opportunity to address the critical shortage of affordable housing in the town.
The MRA strongly opposes the use of the site for housing, on the grounds that it is prone to flooding, has insufficient road access, and is a vital area of open space that is much loved by the community.