Well, it’s all over bar the shouting.
The $6.3 million mixed use ‘Corso’ development in Bayside Brunswick Heads featuring a 38-room boarding house, a small retail hub, and shop-top apartments, has been given the green light by Byron Council.
With legal action already underway, a majority of councillors voted to accept a revised development application put forward by developers Oniva and The Kollective rather than proceed to trial.
The decision is a bitter pill for the dozens of residents of Bayside who ran a committed and disciplined campaign against the proposed development.
It is also arguably a victory for the developer’s strategy of going straight to the Land and Environment Court at the first opportunity, rather than going through the Council approval process.
There are also those who support the proposal as an imperfect but necessary way of providing desperately needed housing for those in the Shire on low-to-middle incomes.
One of those was Greens Cr Sarah Ndiaye, who moved a motion that councillors adopt the advice of staff and approve the development.
‘I understand there’s been a lot of community angst around this proposal,’ Cr Ndiaye said.
‘One thing that the community opposition has done is help to get a better outcome for this development.
‘The number of rooms in the boarding house has been reduced from 48 to 38 – that’s a 20 per cent reduction.
‘There’s also been a change to the aspect of the windows and balconies… increased parking.. and the inclusion of an EV parking station…
‘They don’t have to provide any affordable housing, but they have chosen to do so. There are still the six [affordable housing rooms] – three going to Shift and three to the Arakwal.’
These concessions by the developers have evidently not cut any ice with those residents who oppose the development.
The group’s unofficial spokesperson, Judith Brazenor, described the amendments as ‘tokenistic’ and said they had been presented in a ‘manipulated fashion’ by Council staff.
‘Let’s be transparent about what you’re voting for today, Ms Brazenor said,’ during the public access section of the meeting.
‘You’re voting to disregard 20-plus years of your own planning.
‘This lot is the foundation of the planning for our growing estate…to loose community services for all current and future community services is a planning disaster.’
She said the impact of approving the development would be felt well beyond the Bayside housing estate.
‘The Council declares that this DA meets the desired future character for Brunswick Heads.
‘Most land in town would now we open to this type of development.
‘Councillors are voting on the whole character of Brunswick Heads, and arguably the whole Shire.’
Independent councillor Cate Coorey moved an amendment to the motion that effectively involved refusing the development on the grounds that it did not fit with the character of Brunswick Heads, did not meet the zoning objectives for a neighbourhood centre, and did not involve a satisfactory level of community consultation.
‘This is not the only site where this could go,’ Cr Coorey said.
‘On this site people were hoping for something that was going to create community.
‘We are being pushed to consent to something that doesn’t really work.’
Greens Mayor Simon Richardson sought to bust what he said were a series of ‘myths’ surrounding the development.
This included an apparent belief that building a boarding would bring ‘undesireables’ to the area.
‘It’s hard not to step away and say ‘there’s a little bit of judgment there,’ Cr Richardson said.
‘People still seem to have this idea with boarding houses of a sherry-soaked dressing gown being worn by an old man, with fingers coloured with tabacco and a towel thrown over his shoulder.
‘That’s not this boarding house… They’re not going to be the poor and broken souls. They’re going to be people who are successful and forging their lives.’