Land clearing has begun on one of the West Byron land parcels on Ewingsdale Road, owned by Tower Holdings.
Two Development Applications (DAs) were hard fought by the community for decades, and their approvals will see a new suburb constructed on ecologically significant land.
Environmental concerns, traffic and a lack of affordable housing were raised as issues throughout the process.
One DA is owned by a ‘locals’ consortium, who won considerable concessions behind closed doors at a court mediation with Council’s consultant lawyers.
The clearing now underway for the Tower Holdings DA – called Harvest Estate project – is headed by wealthy Sydney-based developer, Terry Agnew.
Immediate neighbour, Tom Vidal, alerted The Echo of the clearing, and says he shares a 1km boundary with Agnew’s DA.
Vidal is also secretary of the Belongil Catchment Drainage Board, and says he spoke on matters regarding drainage and flooding for the DAs.
Comms broke down
‘I personally arranged a meeting between Terry Agnew, his CEO, and some councillors at my place, after communication broke down between the parties in November 2019’.
‘Consequently, a much better outcome was achieved than the first proposal; unfortunately our “local” mates were not so understanding’.
As for the ‘locals’ DA, he said, ‘The secret court negotiations were woeful’.
He added, ‘To ask residents to make submissions to the court without notifying us that most points of contention (traffic, storm water, drainage, flooding, social impacts etc.etc) were conceded already was quite unbelievable’.
Anthony Aiossa, CEO of Tower Holdings, confirmed that the Harvest Estate project has commenced ‘after an extraordinary long and detailed development approval and construction approval process’.
He told The Echo, ‘During these approval processes, we undertook a collaborative approach together with Council, and community stakeholders, to come up with the final masterplan.
‘This involved significantly reducing the number of lots in the plan, setting aside a 30 metre wide vegetation buffer along Ewingsdale Road, protecting sensitive environmental habitat areas and creating green spaces all throughout the masterplan area.
‘Prior to commencing works, the Northern Rivers environmental group, Boyd’s Bay Group, completed a major environmental rehabilitation and revegetation program on the site involving the planting of over 60,000 new plants.
‘The commencement of the Harvest Estate represents the first new land release in the suburbs of Byron Bay since the Sunrise development in the mid 1970s.
‘The Harvest Estate will also deliver over 50,000 square metres of new public open space in Byron Bay, over 2.8 kilometres of cycle paths, a public outdoor fitness park, communal vegetable garden and a community centre.
‘The first stage of the Harvest Estate will deliver 55 new vacant land lots in the Byron Bay market, which is one of the tightest housing markets in the country, resulting in extremely high rental and house price growth over the last decade.
‘The Estate will allow purchasers to buy a vacant parcel of land and work with their local designers and builders to build their brand new house, which is in walking distance to the Byron Bay town centre and across the road from the Arts and Industry Estate’.
Mr Aiossa says the majority of purchasers so far have been locals and it is the ‘only master-planned land release estate available in the suburbs of Byron Bay’.
‘There may be some short-term inconvenience caused during the construction process, however, this will be managed by the very experienced project team who have been engaged to ensure that that the process runs smoothly and efficiently.
‘The limited remaining lots will be offered for sale later in the year and the first stage will be completed in the second half of next year’.