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Byron Shire
September 25, 2023

Concerns raised over heritage demolition proposal in Byron

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59 Kingsley Street home, photo from DA, Heritage Impact Statement.

The Byron Bay Historical Society has supported concerns raised by residents around a DA that proposes to demolish a home listed in a heritage area.

If approved by Council, DA 10.2021.551.1 would see the existing dwelling demolished and a new house constructed at 59 Kingsley Street, Byron Bay.

According to Council’s 2021 Heritage Report, The SOHI (Statement of Heritage Impact) provides historical research ‘that links the dwelling to the original owner, John Edward Kirk Johnson, who bought the land from the Crown sometime between 1912–22’.

‘John Johnson, a carpenter, is thought likely to have built the house, resided there from the early 1930s with his wife Margaret to 1965/1970 respectively. John’s parents were the first generation of the Johnson family to settle in Byron Bay in the late 1800s. The place therefore demonstrates historical associative significance’.

‘The retention of the original 1920s core of the building is the preferred outcome from a heritage perspective’.

Perspective of proposed new dwelling, photo from DA, Full Set Revised Plans, page 12.

It also says, ‘Demolition within a Conservation Area should only occur where the building does not contribute to the significance of the place. The proposal would remove the original part of a dwelling constructed during a period directly relating to the significance of the Conservation Area which contributes to the historic and aesthetic significance of the precinct.’

Despite the historical value placed upon the dwelling, consultants employed to produce the DA’s Heritage Impact Statement argue the new heritage impact would be ‘positive’ and ‘minor’.

Within the introduction, it reads, ‘The existing dwelling is not listed as an individual heritage item on the BSC LEP, nor is it singled out as an important contributory building within the Kingsley Street Conservation Area (KSCA)’.

On page 6, they write, ‘The KSCA is not recognised on any other state or national heritage schedules or registers’.

On page 16, it reads, ‘The proposed new development has a positive heritage impact in that it is sympathetic to the historic character of the surrounding buildings in the KSCA’.

‘Proposed key building materials have been chosen to make this house present as distinctive and readable from the precinct’s historic weatherboard houses; as well as complements the tin and timber character of KSCA’.

A local resident, who did not want to be named, told The Echo that attempts to get councillors to decide upon the DA through the Planning Review Committee, instead of it being handled by planning staff, fell on deaf ears.

Request ignored by councillors

Council’s Planning Review Committee is tasked with oversight of contentious DAs, and is comprised of councillors.

Other than its guidelines being buried within Council’s Code of Meeting Practice 2020, there is no website or information available on the committee.   

All councillors are members of this commitee, Council staff told The Echo.

Under 21.3 of the Code of Meeting Practice, it reads, ‘The purpose of the Committee is to view, prior to determination, those development applications which have been nominated by councillors, or staff, and could be determined under delegated authority’.

It also reads at 21.4 that, ‘The decision that a development application would be more appropriately determined by the elected Council, must be based on one or more of the following guidelines: …(e) The perceived public significance of the application’.

The resident said, ‘The planning committee disregarded our request to have the matter determined at a Council meeting, and has given staff delegated authority to deal with the consent’.

‘This is disappointing, given the heritage nature of the dwelling and its planned demolition in a conservation area. The fundamental issue is if Council staff allow the owners to demolish the home it will create a precedent for others in a Conservation Area to do the same’.

Byron Bay Historical Society president, Donald Maughan, told Council, ‘We would hope that Council, when reviewing the resubmitted DA, consider a plan which incorporates the retention of the original cottage with new extensions, and that a revised design is sought which would ideally retain the core building as part of the proposed development’.

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  1. Split the difference, move it somewhere else. I’m sure you can find someone with land that needs a new house right about now. Better than flattening it.


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