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Byron Shire
June 26, 2024

Ballina debates Newrybar’s future

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Harvest is one of the big attractions at Newrybar. Photo David Lowe.

With some people still unaware that Newrybar is even part of Ballina Shire, the historic village received some focused attention at the latest Ballina Council meeting.

The background to the debate was a proposal from a consortium of Newrybar business owners in 2018 to rezone the village to RU5 (Rural Village Zone) from 7(c) Environmental Protection (Water Catchment) under the Ballina Local Environment Plan.

After this was rejected, there were more representations to council regarding commercial expansion, diversification, subdivision, services, parking and streetscape issues.

Newrybar Village from the air. Photo David Lowe.

Council staff identified development concerns relating to the fact that the village is located within two major drinking water catchments, Emigrant Creek and Wilson’s Creek, and is currently not connected to a centralised sewerage system, due to its distance from other water infrastructure.

The former Rous Water indicated it would support a central wastewater treatment facility, but said the associated technical and financial problems had not been solved. Research found that connecting to Ballina’s existing sewerage supply, via Cumbalum, would cost as much as $12 million, along with significant ongoing pumping costs.

Since then, wastewater problems have been compounded by parking, pedestrian and traffic issues relating to the increasing popularity of Newrybar Village, especially on weekends.

What now?

On the table at the last Ballina Council meeting was a proposal for council to spend $50,000 developing a new village centre masterplan (to be delivered by 2027), while confirming that it did not support the provision of centralised reticulated sewerage to Newrybar, and telling landholders that changes to land use permissibility (water supply, waste water, car parking, land use conflict etc) would be considered on a site specific basis.

Cr Kiri Dicker proposed an amendment to this, pointing out that ‘the people of Newrybar have been trying to articulate a vision for their community for well over twenty years and they haven’t got very far,’ due to inattention (if not obstruction) from Ballina Council.

She suggested that the Spoonbill Reserve Masterplan be deferred to enable additional resources to be directed to the Newrybar Village masterplan, and to fast-track roadworks on the Old Pacific Highway.

Edge of the road disintegrating in Newrybar. Photo David Lowe.

‘I think anyone that’s been out there can see it’s rather urgent, that the bitumen is breaking off into the road reserve, and the parking issue nearby is also urgent.

‘It really can’t wait,’ said Cr Dicker.

In regard to waste water, she suggested Ballina Council defer a decision on the issue of centralised reticulated sewerage for the village until it had written to all affected landholders and business owners, informed them of its position, and given them an opportunity to respond.

She said it was important to ‘give the community a bit more time, and the right of response.’

Sewerage problem

Cr Rod Bruem said he agreed with some of Cr Dicker’s ideas but suggested the sewerage problem had to be solved urgently. ‘It’s a problem now and all of that potentially ends up in our water supply system.’

He said this was both a local government and state health problem, going on to describe Newrybar as one of the area’s jewels. ‘Newrybar will continue to develop, as it has, and the only way for it to do so is for this council not to be constantly fighting people over wanting to add a spare room on their home.’

Cr Simon Chate and others said new, higher tech options for Newrybar’s waste water needed to be explored, with a lot of divergence in potential budgets needing to be clarified.

Council staff said as far as the Newrybar’s roadworks were concerned, there was some flexibility in getting the work funded and done earlier, if council chose to prioritise it.

Mayor Cadwallader then criticised the suggestion ‘that Newrybar hasn’t gone very far over the last 20 years. Well, it has. I’ve been here for 20 years next year, and Newrybar has been supported.’

Newrybar Community Hall. Photo David Lowe.

She gave the examples of improvements to the hall, a public toilet, and kerb and guttering to improve parking. ‘Does it need more parking? Of course it needs more parking… I’m 100% in support of that.’

But she said she would not prioritise Newrybar over the fast-growing Aureus area at Skennars Head (Spoonbill Reserve Masterplan money).

Regarding the sewerage situation proposed most recently by Newrybar residents, Mayor Cadwallader said, ‘It’s one of those situations where in the short term, it just can’t happen with the proposal put forward. It’s too close to the creek.’

She said she wasn’t prepared to compromise on the water catchment.

Not a blanket no

Later in the meeting, Ballina Council staff member Matt Wood said that in terms of Newrybar development, council’s intent was not to have a ‘blanket no’, but to encourage landowners ‘to come up with individual proposals that allow them to do something different, or expand their commercial operation…

Newrybar is extra popular on every weekend. Photo Davud Lowe.

‘We would normally recommend dealing with things on a broad scale basis, but Newrybar is very, very unique in a planning sense,’ he said.

Ultimately Cr Dicker’s amendment was defeated, but Ballina Council reworded the original motion to ‘investigate feasible options for the provision of sewerage for Newrybar and… consider funding by the State Government.’

For the moment, other development proposals and planning changes in the village would continue to be considered on a case by case basis.

Mayor Cadwallader emphasised that she wanted the best for Newrybar. ‘It’s very popular, and does a great job for our tourism,’ she said.

The revised motion was passed unanimously.

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  1. We have been residents of Newrybar for forty-five years. When we moved up here there was a great sense of community. Sadly, as property prices increased so Community spirit decreased. The only reason that a sewage plant and parking is being considered is due to the business owners in Newrybar. They are thriving, but the village atmosphere is long gone. A few years ago Ballina Council invited the community to a meeting to see what we wanted for the village. It is designated as a hamlet, and that is what the community voted for. Sadly, I think Newrybar has suffered from so-called progress governed by profit.

  2. Might be time to truely invest in a non centralised sewer system
    Current kelp weed distruction( skinners head – flat rock ) and massive black smooth shell crab demise at Lennox point / boulders / skinners head / flat rock / trestles ( black head ) Ballina is alarming .. ( and yes they were very much on the way out before the 22 flood events ) expecting a conventional sewer plant to cope with insane amounts of cleaners / bleach / detergents / dish washer cleaners / LRC calcium eroder / and the pharmacy medicines is impossible
    Byron ( lighthouse rock formation ) has the crabs – periwinkles moloscus on mass ) along with the tiny fish in pools – recent trip to puhket ( no centralised sewer ) yes smaller population( totally alive ocean ! )
    Bother to walk the rocky shoreline adjacent Ballina AREUS sewer outfall and try to find black smooth shell crabs ?
    They were in uncountable numbers ( 45 yrs observation) they are basically gone !
    Clean seas coalition ( Mr bill ringland dec – high court decision v ballina council -in his favour ) warned of this dangerous centralised outdated sewer management system on the environment !( rainbow coloured foam bubbles at Lennox point rock shelf do not lie …….they are a obvious indicator !
    My EPA report 19081 .


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