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August 16, 2022

Contentious Bruns DA before Council again

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A controversial decision by Byron Council to approve a mixed-use development in Brunswick Heads could be overturned, after a group of councillors who oppose the plan got the numbers for a rescission motion.

The development would see the demolition of an old, disused service station on Tweed Street, and the construction of a building combining retail, business and housing uses.

It also features a plan for the town’s first underground car park.

The proposal was approved by the barest of margins at last Thursday’s Council meeting, with Mayor, Michael Lyon, using his casting vote to get the matter over the line after the councillor vote was tied at four-four.

But in the days following the vote, Greens councillor, Duncan Dey, successfully led a push for a rescission motion, along with Independent councillors, Cate Coorey and Peter Westheimer.

This means that the matter will come back before Council for further debate, and another vote at the next full Council meeting in August.

‘There are two key reasons why we decided to do this,’ Cr Dey said.

‘The first is that, had Cate [Coorey] been able to attend the meeting, the development application would almost certainly been refused. The second is that this development involves a subterranean car park, which presents some real issues.’

Opponents of the plan argue that it is not in keeping with the town’s seaside village character, and that it poses a potential flood risk.

‘Our streetscapes and the nostalgic feel in Bruns are very important to us,’ long-time local Leone Bolt said.

‘A sea of concrete like this adds nothing.’

Cr Dey said that the floor of the proposed underground car park was at or near the level of the high tide in Brunswick Heads, and that it would be at the average tide level by the end of the century thanks to sea level rise.

He said that the sophisticated pumping system promised by the proponents was not enough to mitigate the risk of severe flooding. ‘This will be the only basement car park [in Brunswick Heads] and it’ll be flood prone.’ Cr Dey said.

The meeting heard that underground car parks were not permitted in Brunswick Heads until a recent change to the Development Control Plan (DCP) for the town.

The change was meant to discourage the construction of driveways across footpaths. Opponents of the Tweed Street development say that the developer took advantage of this change, which has allowed them to meet the parking requirements for a building with greater floorspace.

However, in their report on the development, Council staff pointed out that the size and scale of the proposal were still relatively modest when compared with other parts of the town.

They also argued that the underground car park would help to preserve the character and visual amenity of the town by keeping extra cars off the street.

It had also been the subject of a flood impact assessment, which Council’s development engineer had found to be ‘acceptable’.

Based, in part, on these findings, staff recommended that councillors approve the development with a number of conditions designed to reduce its impact on the surrounding neighbourhood.

Cr Lyon argued that if councillors refused the development, the decision would be open to legal challenge. He also supported adding two more housing units to the market.


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