Twenty years ago I submitted a development application in line with the rural settlement strategy of 1997 as the controlling document for closer settlement in rural areas of the Byron Shire. Council was sympathetic to the application and we now have a rural land sharing community at Main Arm.
Since 1997, or 26 years ago, Byron Shire Council has been unable to deliver a revised rural land use strategy. I am told now that Council is in an emergency situation to provide an urban expansion strategy. One would wonder what Council has been doing for the last 30 years given the number of planning staff in Council?
We are blessed in Byron Shire to have rural residential lifestyle options that have been confirmed in the 2014 Local Environmental Plan. There seems to be resistance from Council, or a lack of courage, to continue to allow an expansion of rural residential lifestyle in the Shire, which is a shame in view of the affordable housing crisis.
When I was working as a forward planner with Ballina Council we completed a draft Local Environmental Plan for the whole shire in six months, which was completed by three staff in the planning section.
Byron Council’s inaction on this matter was further exacerbated by their recent desire to disallow dual occupancy in rural land sharing communities. Luckily there was enough criticism of this proposal that this idea was dropped.
I understand that there is resistance from our state government to allowing further rural lifestyle expansion, owinge to the absence of road infrastructure, but these infrastructural costs are paid for by section 94 contributions. If Council is having trouble collecting these contributions, then maybe they need to look at their processes and timing of payment of contributions.