Some people choose to rewrite history when it suits them. Former mayor Simon Richardson has been telling people that his protegé, Michael Lyon, was instrumental in getting the developers of Villaworld/ Harvest Estate to reduce the number of houses on the massive West Byron development by more than half.
As someone who was part of that campaign, and made representations to the Land and Environment Court, I can tell you that this is completely inaccurate. Cate Coorey and Byron Residents’ Group generated 5,000 signatures against West Byron, got three separate rallies of over 1,000 people marching through the streets of Byron and drove the campaign from beginning until its end.
It was Dailan Pugh, Cate Coorey and Andrew Murray who, shortly after the JRPP (Joint Regional Planning Panel) refused the West Byron subdivision for several reasons – including ‘not in the public interest’ – went to Sydney and met with Tower Holdings’ CEO, the owner of that half of West Byron. They spoke with Tower and advised them to put a development on the land that was within the environmental constraints and protected threatened frog and koala habitat and Belongil Creek.
After that the developers met with them again and eventually took their plan to Council for approval. That Michael happened to be interim mayor at the time was coincidental. There was no point along that campaign road where Michael Lyon was engaged. I am all for giving credit where credit is due. In this case credit is due to Cate Coorey and the other passionate residents who fought long and hard for Byron Shire against this inappropriate development.
We had a partial victory as the developer gave concessions, such as environmental zones and more open space, as well as decreasing the housing intensity of the development.
Cate Coorey has advocated for the Byron Shire community for the past eight years, five of them as a councillor. If you want someone who can deal with developers and will stand up for our planning laws, Cate is the one to vote for as our mayor.