A 10-house development near the centre of Byron Bay has been approved despite lingering concerns about its impact on a neighbouring wetland area.
The project at 6 Keats Street will see 10 detached dwellings, each with a plunge pool, built on a 6,000 square metre property.
The property abuts the Cumbebin swamp, and some have argued that the proposed 21m gap between the houses and the sensitive wetland area is insufficient.
Byron Council’s own ecologist expressed concern about this issue, stating in a report that: ‘the application has not adequately demonstrated that significant impacts on the coastal wetland will be avoided by the development, owing to the limited buffer width’.
Council staff and the developer endeavoured to address this concern by including the construction of a 90cm metal fence among a long list of consent conditions.
But Greens Mayoral aspirant Duncan Dey, who was hired by an objector to the development to investigate potential problems with storm water, said this would not address the problem.
‘A vertical physical barrier does not constitute a buffer, which is a lateral distance,’ Mr Dey said.
‘If a lateral distance is required then trimming back the number of dwellings would be a potential outcome that councillors could consider.’
But the developer, Zac Kennedy, said he had commissioned one of the country’s top ecologists to investigate the issue, and that the resulting report addressed the issues raised by Mr Dey.
‘The report clearly outlines that the development doesn’t have a significant impact on the wetland,’ Mr Kennedy said.
‘There’s another Development Application for a nearby property… which has much less of a buffer.
‘There’s already a precedent set for much less of a buffer but we’ve done our best to provide the largest buffer possible.’
Mr Kennedy has previously pointed out that the density of the development is far below the maximum possible for the site.
Council’s ecologist had previously been asked to provide further advice about the development but was unable to do so in time for the meeting because he had just returned from two weeks holiday.
This situation drew a mild rebuke to staff from acting Mayor, Michael Lyon.
‘We could have done a bit better in terms of getting the information together, so I think there’s a bit of an opportunity for reflection by staff,’ Cr Lyon said.
In the end all but one councillor, Basil Cameron (Independent), voted in favour of the development.