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Byron Shire
March 21, 2023

Secret agreements and done deals

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Attention Bayside Bruns residents, located around the Lilly Pilli Community Preschool, you are about to have new neighbours who are in need of urgent temporary accommodation.

At their planning meeting last Thursday, Byron Shire councillors agreed in principle to enter into leases for two sites: one at the former Bruns STP, located down the road between the Bowling Club and the skate park, and another two smaller vacant land lots around Excelsior Circuit in Bayside.

But the process, and decision making, all remain secret, with Resilience NSW refusing to answer questions around whether their consultation will be meaningful, given it appears a done deal.

Additionally, the other potential 16 locations handpicked by Council staff remain secret, without any explanation.

Mayor Michael Lyon is yet to reply to questions from The Echo around the process, such as whether Council-operated holiday parks were put forward as site options, and why the ‘draft ground leases’ for both sites are confidential, given the leases are between two supposedly transparent and elected bodies.

Regarding the former STP site location at 125 Tweed Street, The Echo asked Cr Lyon whether Council will be providing any reports, such as soil contamination, to Resilience NSW to ensure that it is a safe site for habitation. The question around flooding was also asked, given the former STP site is right next to Simpsons Creek.

320 people

A Resilience NSW spokesperson told The Echo, ‘The two sites will have the capacity to provide up to 62 temporary modular houses, comprising of studio, one, two and three bedrooms designs to suit the community’s needs, with a combined capacity to house more than 320 people’.

When asked, ‘Will sewerage infrastructure be built for these projects, with every pod having its own facilities? What will the accommodation look like?’, the Resilience NSW spokesperson replied, ‘The temporary modular houses come in various configurations, and will be co-located with supporting infrastructure and amenities.

‘Before the commencement of site works, local residents will be notified and invited to contact Resilience NSW if they have any questions or comments’.

‘124 motorhomes are located at three holiday park sites at Casino, Lismore and Ballina’.

During Thursday’s debate, councillors appeared to lack curiosity around how the project would work, and appeared happy to rely on staff’s directions. The project is being driven, along with staff, by Resilience NSW.

Only one amendment was adopted, moved by Labor’s Asren Pugh, which was, ‘That Council requests Resilience NSW to undertake consultation with nearby properties, in such a way that doesn’t delay the project’.   

That amendment was opposed by Crs Sama Balson (Independent) and Sarah Ndiaye (Greens). Cr Ndiaye told the chamber she was concerned that consultation with neighbours would slow down the process.

Consultation delay

‘There will be 12 new dwellings potentially’, she said, ‘Having gone through similar consultation in Bayside, this could add months’.

She said that the concept of putting the community first was either putting the community that live there above those in dire need or vice versa.

The length of lease, as adopted in the motion, will be three years, with ‘2 x 1 year options to renew’.

The report from last week’s agenda reads, ‘A community housing provider will be appointed as site manager of each of the sites to ensure appropriate selection and management of occupants, alongside Resilience NSW as the land manager for the length of the lease’.

What does the law say?

Legislation that permits temporary housing falls under State Environmental Planning Policy (Housing) 2021.

Yet there is no legislation around maintaining secrecy with processes.

Under Part 10 of the SEPP, it reads, ‘Temporary emergency accommodation, development consent is not required for temporary emergency accommodation provided that the development is carried out on land that is:

(i) is supplied with water and electricity, and

(ii) is provided with sewerage and drainage services, and

(iii) has access to communal amenities.

There also appears a sunset clause where the temporary accommodation needs to be ‘removed from the land within five years of being installed or placed on the land’.

‘Otherwise, development consent under the Housing SEPP and council approval (section 68 of the LG Act is required)’.

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  1. Hubble Hubble, ‘toil & trouble’. Needs a real ‘wake up shake up.’
    The largest worry is soil contamination.

  2. My questions to FB Talk to the Councillors is in regard to has anyone actually inspected the Site beyond the Brun sports ground? I have and it currently has bog like attributes as well as frequently suffering from the existing sewage pump. Wallabies use it as do many birds. I understand the huge need and asked about The exMullum hospital site, the railway land in Mullum and the green site to the North in the Boat harbour Prescint. So far no councillor has responded , others have with claims there is still asbestos at the Mullum site. If so why?

  3. There is no mention of cars and car parking. With any new estate there is always trouble with vehicles
    With more than 320 people there could be about 320 cars with visitors. And if the soil is soft and boggy there needs to be sealed roads and car parking facilities. A lot of questions need to be asked with this one, and to get answers.

  4. Why is the old Byron hospital not being used for temporary accomodation?It is full of rooms with toilet and shower facilities and has a kitchen .Each ward room could have a locking door fitted and support a large family.I also question the cost of temporary housing pods.350 million for 2000 pods = $175 thousand per pod.even with transport and temporary infrastructure some people are making a big root of public funds.a container is 5k,water tank and generator 4K,fit out 10k.A long way from 175k!

    • Shipping containers cost $3000. You could buy 58 for $175,000. Give them a couple of grant for building supplies and they can make their own custom “pod”. Let people help themselves. How to build Tiny houses is all over Youtube, starting with a container makes it fast and easy.


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