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March 24, 2023

Former mayor hits back at developer claims

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Former Mayor of Byron Shire and Greens MLC Jan Barham. Photo Eve Jeffery.

Former Greens mayor and NSW MLC Jan Barham has refuted comments by developer Brandon Saul around a ‘fundamental error’ that led to staff applying a zone label change to the Linnaeus Estate.

A DA for 33 housing lots on the upmarket Linnaeus Estate at Broken Head remains on the table despite containing fundamental legal errors. Photo www.linnaeus.com.au

Last week’s Echo report detailed how Council’s planning staff changed the ‘zone label’ on a 111 ha parcel of pristine and rare littoral rainforest between Broken Head and Lennox Head.

Ms Barham maintains a label zone change to mix use benefits the landowner, given the community were not made aware of the change.

Ms Barham told The Echo that some of Mr Saul’s comments last week ‘misrepresent the history of the error and the current proposal’.

She said, ‘Mr Saul states, “Neither Council, the original developers, or the current owners sought a rezoning”.’

‘Yet in February 2015, a report to Council indicated that it was the applicants who sought to rezone and seek Community Title (CT) rezoning. They also raised the zone label as a problem and sought rectification.

‘Council rejected the request for rezoning at the time, but agreed to rectify the zoning label, which was Education, and according to them, prohibited.

‘Mr Saul then goes on to say, “The proposal that is currently under consideration is a very modest eco/health retreat that would actually reduce the built form currently approved, and is not tied to either the zoning issues, or the CT process”.

‘Yet the current tourism proposal is absolutely tied to the zone change. Prior to the Mixed Use Development label being applied, the zone only permitted education use.

‘In relation to the modest built form of the proposal, it’s unrealistic to state that the new proposal would reduce the built form currently approved. The proposal seeks to transfer the development rights from 11 approved accommodation units, that were limited in size to deliver 33 cabins that sleep two people each, but the size, hasn’t been stated. We all know from experience that developments grow over time. Start small and then expand has been the usual.

‘My complaint to Council also addressed other consent issues, including the fact that some cabins were built in the erosion zone, the size of the buildings, whether the required conservation work had been undertaken, and the approval given by Council in 2013 to replace eight camping sites with five large accommodation units and the failure to construct the new on-site wastewater system’.

New to site

Mr Saul replied to the claims, telling The Echo, ‘I’m only new to this site, so I really can’t talk with any authority as to what has and hasn’t happened in the past’.

He said he was ‘not without empathy for Jan’s concerns’, and that what  ‘happened in the past are quite likely well founded’.

‘That said, my research shows the current owners actively sort an MO to CT conversion (in accordance with Council’s rural land use strategy), but did not request the current Mixed Use zoning’. He also added that, ‘I may be wrong, but I suspect even Jan will be pleasantly surprised when [The DA] is lodged’.

He added, ‘It really is very modest in both scale, form and character, and will provide sympathetic long-term management of what I think we all agree is a very special site’.

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  1. If the constant expansion and pushing of the boundaries of Brandon Saul’s other developments are anything to go by his assurances on this development aren’t worth much.

  2. That I feel Robin Harrison is a little harsh .. Each and all Developments are judged on their merits by a ” Fairly Long drawn out process” each to be singular and considered on its’ merit .. Assurances on this development by Brandon are for this development .. For you to tie in “Past Developments” in the Direction you seek “per assurance” seems to have an “element of spite” attached ,,


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