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Byron Shire
March 22, 2023

Byron Wildlife Hospital’s DA up for public comment

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Byron Bay Wildlife Hospital
Byron Bay Wildlife Hospital.

A development application (DA) for the mobile Byron Bay Wildlife Hospital is now before the public.

DA 10.2021.91.1 seeks to formalise the existing use of the semitrailer, which is parked adjacent to the Island Quarry (IQ) on the on Ewsingsdale Road, just before the Cavvanbah Centre.

However, the placement of the trailer at this site, which has no existing legal access from Ewingsdale Road, and is on an area currently zoned 7(b) Coastal Habitat under Byron LEP 1988 which prohibits development without consent have raised concerns from some locals.

When The Echo previously sought clarification from Byron Shire Council on the use of the site by the wildlife hospital they stated that, ‘There are provisions that exempt hard stand spaces in the Code’s SEPP which will be considered as part of the application assessment process’ but chose not to further clarify where this permission lay in the zoning regulations.

Previous DAs rejected

It is understood that Council has previously rejected a previous S138 road access and four DA’s at this site based on the environmental sensitivity and access issues. Approximately two years ago, on advice from Byron Council Development Planning Officer Chris Soulsby, it was put forward that no future access be granted off Ewingsdale Road. As a result of this decision Island Quarry president Shane Rennie told The Echo that they have been advised they will have to relinquish their access from Ewingsdale Road when the ex Sunnybrand land is developed.

Comment on the hospital

Design plans from the DA indicate that the mobile hospital would be located within the property, which is owned by Adam Bennett-Smith, founder and CEO of Koho, a specialist ‘affordable and disability housing’ developer.

If approved it would operate 24/7.

According to the DA: ‘Prior to the Australian bushfires, Dr Stephen Van Mil and his friend and co-veterinarian Dr Evan Kosack had conceived the plan for a wildlife hospital like none before: one dedicated to the treatment and rehabilitation of injured native Australian wildlife, and uniquely, one that could go to where the injured animals are’.

‘The Byron Bay Wildlife Hospital concept was born.

‘It is no ordinary veterinary hospital. BBWH has built Australia’s largest Mobile Wildlife Hospital in a customised semi-trailer to facilitate an immediate response to wildlife in crisis anywhere in Australia’.

The DA documents also say, ‘No onsite works are proposed other than general landscaping and environmental protection works ie. weed removal within the immediate vicinity of the parking spot’.

However, at the launch of the Wildlife Hospital on 3 December, 2020 ‘the project’s founders spoke to their vision that this is only the beginning for the wildlife hospital with plans to create a more permanent space in the future’. The founders said that they see this as ‘serving a dual role as a hospital, as well as an educational facility where locals and tourists can go to learn more about wildlife and their conservation.’

The Echo has sought clarification from the Byron Wildlife Hospital if the vision for education, conservation and tourist facility will be for this or another yet to be determined site.

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