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Byron Shire
June 24, 2024

Councillors to vote on railway land parcel sell off

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The state government is trying to quietly sell off a piece of rail corridor land in the centre of Byron for residential development.

In a Development Application (DA) coming before this week’s Council meeting, the government’s Transport Asset Holding Entity (TAHE) is proposing what is described as a ‘boundary adjustment’ on railway land, located at 14 Kendall Street, Byron Bay.

According to the Council staff report, the government wants to incorporate 261 square metres of highly valuable beachside Belongil land into an adjoining block, so that it can become part of a private residential subdivision.

The application has been initiated by the TAHE, who describe the land in question as being ‘surplus to requirements’. No private developer was mentioned in the report, however TAHE’s DA 10.2022.159.1 was referenced.

However, the land may not be surplus to the requirements of those, including Byron Council, who want to get trains back on the tracks in the Byron Shire. Nevertheless, Byron Council staff make no mention of this issue in their report on the matter, stating that the formal use and management of the area to be acquired will not change. The report also indicates that the matter was only brought to the specific attention of councillors, because the land in question contains a small area of coastal wetland. Staff have recommended that councillors approve the boundary adjustment.

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  1. I hope the developers know about the pesky tourist train , passing by twice an hour ?
    Also the beach access next to Bay Villas .
    If they build right up to Bay Villas .
    It will be a very long walk for beach goers .
    Other access to the beach is down at main beach car park ( the wreck )
    So many Resort visitors use this beach access at Bay Villas .Driving to the Belongil beach is also a No No .
    Parks are limited
    Traffic onto Shirley st is already very dangerous ( No round abouts )

  2. Told you so !
    How gullible are the ‘rail trail ” proponents?
    We ( all Australians ) have lost a significant resource to real estate scammers and will never be able to afford to regain the rail access to Queensland.
    Feel proud you horsey bikey fools. G”)

    • The proposed sale has absolutely nothing to do with any rail trail. No railway land is being sold off in Tweed where we do have a rail trail. Rail trails protect the public ownership of rail corridors. The protection is in the legislation.

      As usual a rail advocate with nothing intelligent or even coherent to contribute to a discussion resorts to personal abuse without even revealing their identity,

  3. The block of land adjacent was sold off by NSW Railways back in the 90s for a medium density development, nothing out of the ordinary that excess land is sold off . All along the north side of Shirley St the land owners either bought the excess land or have leases over it .
    Conspiracy theorists should learn about what has actually happened over the past 40 years of excess railway land being sold off , you will be disappointed that your wild conspiracy theories are just furphies .

  4. Yes how very gullible and selfish Ken. Of course the scandalous NSW state governments are selling off VERY EXPENSIVE rail land in Byron-that’s been the agenda all along and no bike track will prevent them from selling off the rest of the corridor. So much for their assurances that the land would remain in public hands. Those bothering to pay attention have always been aware of the agenda and tried to warn people, but have been shouted down.

    Our state governments have done nothing for this region but close things down, privatize them and sell them off. We used to have three hospitals in Byron Shire, now we have one. But if people have a health issue more serious than an ingrown toenail they have to hike to Lismore or Tweed. Then they closed the train service. No consultation or consideration for the transport needs in one of the fastest growing regions in the country with millions of tourists!

    Politicians couldn’t care less about this area. They just keep milking it-$2billion a year in stamp duty from expensive real estate alone-to keep things running in Sydney.

    When people have highrise overlooking their backyards blocking out the sun and breeze, and the rising ocean lapping at their doors, (there’ll be plenty of beach access) they’ll be wishing for quiet, sustainable ‘trains on our tracks’, less traffic gridlock on Shirley St and less climate disasters.

    • Louise again asserts without the slightest evidence or precedent, that the corridor will be sold. No part of the corridor has been sold or has been proposed to be sold.

      She also claims that we live in “one of the fastest growing regions in the country”. This is patently false and not even close to the truth.

      As usual, Louise simply pulls numbers out of the air to suit her bitter agenda. Byron Shire has about 17,000 or half of one percent of the around three million dwellings in NSW. In FY 20-21 the government collected just over $9 billion in stamp duty. Her claim that this area, however far you chose to expand it for the sake of the argument, is responsible for over a fifth of that revenue is patently ridiculous.

      She continues her rant by going off on a tangent about high rise blocking out the sun. What that has to do with our rail corridor I don’t know. If anything, a railway would encourage high rise development. High rise and railways ways go hand in hand because of the large numbers of passengers required to live close to the stations in order to justify the railway investment.

      Her claim that ‘quiet sustainable trains’ in this sparsely populated region would reduce ‘traffic gridlock’ and ‘climate disasters’ is not supported by any evidence.

    • Louise it is a shame you didn’t do some research on these land sales abutting the railway line within Byron Bay , it has been happening since the early 1980s.
      Please do some background checks before chasing ghosts , you are making wild untrue assertions that have you looking like a conspiracy theorist.

  5. As soon as I saw the headline I could predict that certain contributors would have keyboards poised to attribute all sorts of dastardly consequences emanating from the rail trail – even though we don’t have one, or agreement on one, yet in this shire.

    Never let the facts get in the way of a good old “I told you so”.

    It’s clear that, as the Elements train goes through this area, it will not interfere with any potential retrograde plans to return the anachronistic Casino to Murwillumbah alignment.

    I’d love better train infrastructure in this area but know it would be all but useless without a new track and alignment that will link the most populated areas and travel at greater than horse and cart speed. Let’s save our energy to lobby for something for the future.

    In the meantime I would suggest the greater concern in this proposal is the madness of continuing development on flood prone land.

  6. That anyone could condone governments closing so many essential services in our area, then wasting so much taxpayers’ money on ‘cycling tourism’ when the population and tourism numbers are increasing exponentially, is beyond comprehension.

    Obviously the ‘dastardly consequences’ of climate change disasters on our communities are of no concern to those proponents of turning billions of dollars worth of train line, which connects most of the Northern Rivers major population centres, which will include Tweed when the line is extended, and could take millions of vehicles off our roads, into a bike track. Talk of a new train line is just rubbish-even if any government would fund it. Even the old XPT travelled the region faster than driving on our goat track roads. No local or tourist, will use a train that bypasses all the towns they live in or want to visit, such as Byron Bay.

    We need to be working hard and fast to reduce emissions from road transport, not increasing them. Upgrading roads for more vehicles will cost millions more than a train service. As the politicians said train services on the line and the rail connection to the Queensland rail system would provide ‘enormous social, environmental and cost benefits’.

    We can all see the bike track from Murwillumbah to Crabbes Creek is increasing traffic, not reducing it, there are as many vehicles as bikes. Just what we need-well done!

    Even the Tweed Mayor now admits that no consultaion was done about the bike track with the wider community. Thousands have been calling for train services and been ignored. How many protest rallies have to be held and names on petitions presented before politicians listen to them and provide the services communities need, rather than destroying valuable infrastructure for ‘cycling tourism’?

    Great for those who enjoy driving to the bike track in their gas guzzling utes etc and cycling in all weathers, but too bad about those who are still living rough after losing their homes in climate disasters.

    • The old railway was not an ‘essential service’. When it ran it was only used by a very small proportion of the population and we have been doing fine without it for nearly two decades since services ceased.

      The business case for the rail trail showed that it would return more to the regional economy than it cost to construct. That means it is not a ‘waste of money’. Usage numbers suggest it will far exceed the original projections especially when the whole 130 kms have been completed. The trail is not just for tourists. It is a valuable piece of recreational and transport infrastructure already being used by huge numbers of local people.

      The old railway does not connect ‘the Northern Rivers major population centres’ because the region doesn’t have any ‘major population centres’. The largest town is Lismore which is about number fifty of the largest towns in Australia. Eighty-five percent of people in NSW live in centres that are larger than Lismore. Louise needs to get out more from her insular existence and find a perspective on the reality faced by the vast majority.

      Moreover, if Ballina is not already larger than Lismore, it soon will be, especially with so many residents abandoning Lismore after the floods . The corridor doesn’t go to Ballina. Or the other main regional population, Tweed Heads. The corridor just connects a handful of small towns to Lismore .

      There is zero evidence that trains on the old corridor would result in a reduction of emissions from road transport. The billions of dollars required to turn the old railway into a modern transport system are being better spent upgrading roads such as the Bruxner Highway, which has always been one of the busiest arterial roads in the region. That expenditure benefits huge numbers of people, not a tiny minority who would use a train and that reality is reflected the opinion of the vast majority of voters in our democracy.

      The greedy few like Louise who would benefit from reopening the railway can moan all they like about having their desires indulged, but the fact is that rational analysis shows that spending a fortune on the old railway would be a very unwise investment, with far better results to be gained in public transport by improving bus services.

      The historical unsubstantiated opinions of politicians about the benefits of the railway are of no value. The future of the corridor was decided by the outcome of a comprehensive professional study by an internationally recognised transport and civil engineering consultancy corporation which was accepted by both sides of parliament nearly a decade ago.

      After seeing the reality of the corridor from the trail, the Tweed mayor recently acknowledged that it would never have been possible to build an off formation trail. Her view about the supposed lack of consultation was a product of her obsession with keeping the old railway naively believing it would one day allow it to reopen. Her campaign opposed every single motion to advance the trail from the time she was elected to the final vote to complete the project. Her opinions have never aligned with the majority view of the council. The majority of the council has always supported the trail.

      Petitions are full of stale signatures provided by people who have been lied to by pushy rail advocates. Protests about the railway are typically attended by a handful of the same devotees over and over. There is no popular support for the railway cause. This has been repeatedly proven and most recently by the dismal polling of rail advocate Allen Crosthwaite who received the second lowest vote of any independent candidate in the whole state.

      Move on Louise. Move on.

    • Louise, this is your usual oft repeated general rant about the rail trail. Does this mean you have conceded that the land sale has little to do with any rail trail we are yet to get?

  7. The knee-jerk responses by Ken and Louise show very clearly how poorly researched this article is. If you look at the maps the parcel of land is not part of but adjacent to what is still referred to as the Casino to Murwillumbah Railway. And if that was not clear the Development Approval documentation under “ Acts under which licences or approvals are
    required ‘ does not show the Transport Administration Act, which would need to be amended by the Parliament to sell off any part of the actual railway corridor. To state “.. the land may not be surplus to the requirements of those, including Byron Council, who who want to get trains back on the tracks in the Byron Shire” is quite misleading . Why would council staff mention a matter that when there is nothing to show the land has any relevance to its current any future rail use or for the Byron Shire’s participation in the Northern Rivers Joint Organisation’s assessment of the feasibility of using the corridor for a rail trail?
    In answer to Ken and Louise: the only gullible people here are those who read the article , made no effort to check the facts and believed it had something to do with the railway. But what is more surprising is that there are still people who imagine the LNP and Labor governments that they claim are keen to sell off the corridor would put in place an act that expressly prohibits its sale, in order to create a community use – a rail trail – a use which has been popular for three years in isolated Tumbarumba and so hugely popular on the Tweed over its first six weeks.


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