A picturesque property in Brunswick Heads that was once slated to become an eco-village may become a light industrial precinct after the owners sold it to a developer for $10 million.
The 52-hectare property at 66 Saddle Road was intended to be home to the Bruns Eco Village – a sustainable, intentional community that was going to house dozens of locals in idyllic bliss.
But that plan fell in a heap, and late last year Byron Council earmarked the land for possible business and industrial uses – listing it in its Business and Industrial Land Strategy (BILS).
This decision was backed by the current interim Mayor Michael Lyon (Former Greens, now independent) and the current Greens councillors; except Cr Sarah Ndiaye, who voted against.
This is despite strong opposition from other councillors, local residents, and the fact that the NSW Department of Planning initially opposed the investigation of the precinct for industrial use.
The Department initially found that the site was not appropriate for industrial development and was surplus to the Council’s industrial land needs. It subsequently endorsed the site’s inclusion in the strategy, on the condition that Council first explore whether or not it was suitable for argicultural use and how an industrial precinct might affect the surrounding land.
Rezoning questioned by Planning Dept
The $10m purchase is more than eight times what the previous owners paid for it in 2013 and the new owners say they intend using it for business and industrial uses. The new owners are Brandon Saul, Julie Howie, Scott Goninan and his partner, Philippa Goninan.
Mr Saul is a part owner/developer of Splendour in the Grass and the North Byron Parklands, Habitat Estate in Byron, and the proposed Linnaeus tourism resort at Broken Head.
His recently lodged DA for 40 Community Title ‘commercial’ lots near Habitat is also pending, according to Council’s webiste
Mr Goninan is a member of one of Queensland’s richest families, with significant business interests across the country.
Mr Saul told The Echo, ‘To be completely honest with you, we don’t have a detailed plan for the site just yet (as we only settled on the property three or so weeks ago)… but in very general terms, we hope to create a home for small, passion based businesses, many of whom are grounded in small scale agriculture and food production’.
‘The property was identified in Council’s recently published Employment Lands Strategy (ELS), and I think it’s really important that we encourage meaningful employment opportunities in the Shire, particularly in the rural/agribusiness/food sector.
‘If we are to be more than a tourist destination moving forward we need to support the myriad of small businesses in the Shire that are doing good things outside of tourism.’
The sale of 66 Saddle Road to developers is the latest twist in the ongoing tale of the land.
Around five years ago, the landowner, Kelvin Daly, proposed transferring some of his land to those looking to buy a home at a significant discount’ and proposed the Brunswick Eco Village (BEV).
Eco village scotched
More recently, other surrounding landowners came on board and presented a planning proposal for the entire ridgeline to Council.
While the urbanisation proposal included an affordable-housing component, it met with resistance from other neighbours.
In April 2019, Mr Daly issued a statement calling it quits. ‘It is with great sadness and regret that I inform you all that my wife Skai and I cannot sustain the BEV project any longer,’ he said.