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Byron Shire
May 24, 2022

‘Primitive campground’ rejected by Byron Council

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‘It looks like a duck, it’s quacking like a duck and it’s walking like a duck – so don’t tell me it’s a chicken.’

And with those immortal words from Greens Byron Mayor Simon Richardson, the application for a ‘primitive campground’ at MacLeods Shoot was plucked.

The plan, which came before last week’s Byron Council planning meeting, seemed pretty reasonable at first blush.

Image of safari tent interior.

The owners of the 13.5-hectare St Helena Road property were seeking permission to set up eight camping spots so that tourists and other visitors could stay on the site.

Having planted 21,000 native trees on the picturesque escarpment site, their proposal appeared well suited. But a closer look revealed that the proposal was not exactly ‘primitive’ as required under the 7d Scenic Escarpment zoning.

Think ‘heyday of the British Raj’ and you get the idea.

‘We wish to address the notion that what would be constructed are removable, temporary tents as required by the zoning,’ concerned neighbours Phillip and Margaret McMurdo said in a letter that was read to the meeting.

‘The tents proposed here are fixed to the land. They consist of a timber floor, timber framing fixed to it … a bath, a shower, a toilet and kitchenette.

‘And above that is a fixed PVC roof.’

The local planning firm that wrote the application – Ardill Payne and Partners – sought to emphasise that the proposal would have little or no visual or environmental impact.

‘The [wooden] platforms will stay on site and unoccupied tents will be removed,’ Mr Roberts said.

Image of proposed safari tent.

Six hour packdown

‘It will take about four-to-six hours to take down.’

But these arguments failed to cut any ice with the majority of the councillors.

It didn’t help that the manufacturer of the safari tents described them on their website as ‘high-end glamping villas’ and ‘eco-resort luxury accommodation’.

Also somewhat unhelpful was the fact that, according to Council staff, the property’s owners have been using it as a wedding venue without permission.

View towards the proposed camping sites on the north-eastern slope of the property. Two of the proposed safari tents have already been illegally erected.

And they had already built an unauthorised safari tent underneath a set of powerlines.

‘The issue I have is that it isn’t what it says it is,’ Cr Richardson said.

‘For us to say: “this is a piece of land being used as an unauthorised wedding venue, and we’re putting basically permanent structures on it,” is sending the wrong signal.

‘We need to send a clear message as to what we’re expecting on these sites.’

And with that, the proposal was cooked like a chook.

All but one councillor, Labor’s Jan Hackett, voted to support a staff recommendation that it be refused, leaving the owners with little choice but to scratch around for a new proposal.

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  1. No progress with this thinking what a boring town with a shit council like Byron Bay. You all need to go global all tou farts.

  2. Even our comments have no freedom.. Are you word police on the hunt if our comments do not meet your rules. Awaiting moderation what the hell is that talk.. Get ride of that money council at Byron Bay.. Too many fingers in the pie.

  3. While I’m against most developments is this shire, this one included, you have to wonder if this has anything to do with the neighbors both being judges, one formerly the Supreme court of QLD? I cannot remember Mayor Richardson rejecting and commenting on a DA this small before.

  4. I think it’s sad when people cant make a living off their own property. Times are hard for everyone. I couldn’t see anything wrong with this idea. And having neighbors sooking about it! How is it a problem for them. Could it be they never thought of the idea themselves. Maybe people 2day, like to cry about everything. It’s not like it’s a concrete monstrosity. Big wigs like 2 make it hard, because they can. I’m sure they all enter with a great purpose in mind, but power changes people. It’s a shame we don’t have enough leveled headed people.

  5. Probably the right call actually.. does seem to be taking the piss. You can see some of the huts from the road, and they don’t look temporary. What happens if every land owner was to do this? Also.. 21,000 trees.. really? Guess they can’t be seen from the road like the huts can

    • Great reply Jake. Couldn’t have said it better myself. We don’t want the shire turning into a neo-Noosa. These land owners on that road have plenty of money, enough said.

  6. Have to agree. Effectively building permanent mini hotels on a farm in the hinterlands for commercial use. If I lived on a farm next door I’d be blowing up like a second mortgage.

    Compounded by the bloke already using the place as a wedding venue without permission. I tried to build a self contained granny flat at the back of our place and was knocked back. Stinks IMO and sets a dangerous precedent if approved. What if multiple people started building mini houses all over farms?

  7. illegal glamping structure , illegal wedding venue , illegal kitchen in a garage , illegal is illegal. takes a certain arrogance to go above the law.. will the council do anything about it…….


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