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Byron Shire
June 15, 2021

Mayor’s parting gift 

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The Mayor’s parting gift to the Bruns/Bayside Community was ushering through approval for the controversial Corso Boarding House on land zoned B1 for Retail, Business and Community use. The revised plan increased retail space from 2 to 4 shops adding an extra 29m2, or 246m2 of retail space overall, well below the required ratio.

The adjoining public reserve has been ‘activated’ to improve integration with ground floor retail use and an EV charging space has been added. That’s all it took to convince Council to approve this project.

There is no community space included in the plan, with two thirds of this commercial site consumed by residential use. At the heart of Bayside’s residential estate is not a community hub, but a boarding house.

The boarding house includes 38 rooms, most are 24m2 with the shop-top units slightly bigger (34m2). The rooms have windowless walls with a balcony at one end and the front door at the other. There’s an ensuite bathroom, but no cooking facilities beyond the microwave, toaster and an electric jug. There’s an onsite laundry (two wash/dryers only) but no community kitchen. Inmates will have to rely on the bounty of Brunswick and surrounds for survival (burgers, fish & chips, Chinese, Mexican, Indian and Thai, or the pub). With most kitchens closed by 8pm they’ll have the 24 hour Bruns servo for midnight snacks!

They’ll all need cars to get around to work or study or shopping, owing to sporadic, poorly timed public transport – yet only half the car spaces required are provided. The bike and pedestrian tracks lead only to Bruns. There will be noise, smells and overcrowding issues with so many in so small an area, with excess stuff spilling out into public spaces, providing ample opportunities for conflict and confrontation.

Councillors argue that small communities can’t sustain commercial areas – pointing out Suffolk, New Brighton, and South Golden Beach survive with just one shop. Yet they all have community spaces, halls, parklands, sportsfields, or community hubs – and Bayside is now doomed to miss out.  

There are plenty of sites for a boarding house in the next stage of the Bayside subdivision, but this is the only site earmarked for retail and community use. It’s another missed opportunity, and the community is left astounded, after their plea to include or retain some community space fell on deaf ears again. Another sad legacy – and precedent set – by this disappointing, departing Council.

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