It’s fair to say residents of Mullumbimby have seen a steady increase in the number of vehicles visiting the town over recent years; a mixed blessing depending on your circumstances. For businesses it has undoubtedly meant an increase in takings from an uptick in patronage, a welcome bonus after the difficulties suffered through the peak of COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions. Restaurants and retail outlets have thrived because of the visitors enjoying the relaxed ambience Mullumbimby offers. On the other hand the increase in visitors has created a parking crisis. One can spend much time circumnavigating town in search of a vacant parking spot. A sense of satisfaction is derived from securing one close to where you want to be. Formal parking on the outskirts of Mullumbimby has not eventuated, and therefore means central business district (CBD) parking is at a premium.
Bearing all this in mind it’s hard to believe that Byron Shire Council (BSC) proposes to construct a housing development on a centrally located car park. This will deprive businesses and residents alike of a much-valued parking area in close proximity to where money is spent, keeping the town alive and thriving.
Some readers may not be aware of Council’s proposal for a housing development over the public car park adjacent to Hooper’s restaurant at 55 Station Street (previously the Poinciana Cafe). The whole process has been shrouded in secrecy and not been offered for public consultation. Residents of this proposed complex will live above the car park; no obligation or reason for them to move their cars to vacate the space for others.
I would like to acknowledge my awareness of the housing crisis and applaud sensible efforts to alleviate it. I consider this proposal by Council to be neither sensible nor worthy of applause!
It seems a flawed and selfish proposal to use a CBD car park when other Council-owned land could be more suitable for the same purpose. No consideration appears to have been given to the less mobile in the community who will be forced to park further away from the CBD.
The alternative sites for housing to which I refer include the Station Street car park adjacent to the BSC offices and the old Mullumbimby hospital site. Both of these sites would allow larger developments and are eminently suitable for what the Council has in mind. Moreover, neither site would remove car parks important to both current ratepayers, visitors, and the businesses that rely on shoppers being able to park in close proximity to the CBD.
I urge Byron Shire Council to reconsider the proposal to build over the car park next to Hooper’s. What motivates BSC to even contemplate such ridiculous projects is a mystery to me and many others. Just compare the other plan they have of putting housing on the floodplain opposite the High School that is known as Lot 22. Residents need to stand up and let BSC know that ratepayers’ money should not be squandered on such inappropriate, destructive and misplaced housing projects.
Steve Bellerby, Mullumbimby