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Byron Shire
September 20, 2021

Markets could return to Byron’s Butler St Reserve

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Byron’s weekly farmers’ market may return to its traditional home in Butler Street Reserve after detailed soil testing found that the park was less contaminated than was feared.

After months of discussion and debate over the future of the site following the discovery of acid sulphate soils, consultants hired by Council have found that it is, in fact, suitable for certain community uses.

‘No polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) of public open space health-based criteria were reported in all the samples collected from the former site surface and/or landfill material,’ the consultants, Cavanbah Consulting, said in their report.

‘The site is considered suitable for the proposed community use for open space, market place and car parking.’ These findings have been forwarded to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) for a final review.

However, in the meantime, Council staff are developing a proposal for the staged return of community uses to the reserve, including the weekly farmers’ market.

Stage One of this proposal would see a return of the weekly farmers’ market to a small grassed section of the reserve. Stage Two would see a return of the entire reserve to community use for a ‘mix of markets, parking and green recreation space, factoring in any constraints or exclusion zones required by the EPA’.

In a press release issued last week, interim Byron Mayor, Michael Lyon, described the latest consultant’s report as ‘positive news’.

Meanwhile, Council staff are preparing a development application (DA) for the monthly Community Market to be relocated to Railway Park in the centre of town.

This market is currently located in the park next to Byron’s Main Beach. The Community Market was only meant to remain in this temporary home until October.

However, Council staff have now indicated that 90 days is needed to assess the DA, meaning that the relocation will be delayed until at least December 2021.


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4 COMMENTS

  1. I appeal to the Byron Shire Council to follow common sense, respect the law and comply with The Plan of Management for the Butler Street Recreational Reserve.

    Previous generations have left us a toxic legacy in form of an illegal dump. Filling up a wetland lagoon with waste, they created a hazardous time bomb.
    They also left us with a sensible solution to at least containing it by creating the Reserve and laws regulating its use. There was a recognition that the area cannot be paved as the ground is not stable.The soil and grass covering was to be protected, allowing only a monthly community market vehicle access and other recreational activities being pedestrian.

    Contrary to these aims, the council has permitted a weekly farmer’s market and its parking to operate. That stressed and killed a lot of grass. Subsequent allocation of a heavy vehicle daily parking has destroyed the protective surface on most of the Reserve creating wheel-rut depressions.The Reserve thus lost its recreational and environmental function. It destroyed the community market appeal as punters found dust or mud filled pot holes instead of grass.Even playing a ball-game was not possible. The market stallholders saw their rent money being literally thrown away with the ground swallowing more and more gravel spread by the market’s management.

    Is BSC planning to remove the underground waste? Why allow activities which will destroy the grass and its roots? Is it planning to cover it with fake grass and fence it with barbed wire? I honestly would not be surprised.

    Connected by a direct man made canal to Belongil Creek, this land surface is critical in protecting the health of the estuary and the surrounding Cumbebin Wetland. The addition of the bypass and the bus station only increased the pressure on the wetland. A properly managed and designed monthly market on the site could help to improve its environmental and social function. It is a Goldilocks ( just right) solution for the site. Opening the Reserve to more frequent vehicle use shows no fundamental understanding of how to take care of the grass and can only turn the area into a dustbowl again.

  2. Council alleges the monthly market will not be in Railway Park, but on the rail tracks and Lawson st south car park. The developers Byron bay masterplan still has that the Butler st reserve be developed for multistory apartments while still facilitating a farmers market.

  3. As a resident in the immediate area, I would prefer to see the Butler Street reserve operate as a formalized public carpark 24/7. The new community center in the old hospital site has no onsite carparking- per the traffic engineers report in excess of 100 carparks will be required for tenants and visitors. Carparking in residential streets, and formalized on street parking in town is very limited. Only a handful of new developments offer significant carparking. A dedicated. public owned carpark for town is essential. The rail corridor upgrade looks excellent – is there an obvious reason why this area cannot be used for the markets?

  4. I agree Alex, parking is abysmal but local businesses are already pounded by these low overhead businesses, many from out-of-town and all contributing little to rates revenue to pay for infrastructure upkeep. Do they now need to move closer to the CBD?

    There have been plans by Council in the past to “activate” this area by turning it into permanent three-ring circus of pop-up stalls. Watch these plans get revised once the monthly markets get in here.

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