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Byron Shire
June 15, 2024

Reflections ‘land grab’ to be taken up with minister

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Terrace Reserve encroachment of public foreshore lands by Reflections. Photo Sean O’Meara

Residents are again up in arms over Reflections Holiday Parks blocking public access along Simpsons Creek in Brunswick Heads.

The NSW government-run corporation operates the town’s Terrace Reserve Holiday Park, among others, and the issue has been ongoing for over a decade.

Local NSW MP, Tamara Smith told The Echo the issue has come about because ‘a privatised entity (Holiday Park Trust) that makes profit from the holiday parks is the same entity that puts forward a so called “community map” of the footprint of their park’.

‘They set the boundaries of the holiday park and obviously have a vested interest in pushing the boundaries as far as possible.’ 

‘When councils managed the parks, it was less of an issue because the parks could not be sold off to private developers.

‘However, since the State took over jurisdiction of holiday parks on crown land and has shown a penchant for selling off crown land – the community has every right to be concerned about both the loss of public land and the windfall to a future developer in gaining a larger footprint of public land. 

MP Smith added, ‘Since the Plans of Management [PoM] are premised on a “community map” of the park that is set by the private interest and not actual maps, whenever we see extension of the parks it is infuriating to say the least. I look forward to raising this absurd phenomenon with the new crown land minister’. 

Some of the historic coastal cypress pines surviving in the Terrace reserve.

In March 2021, Reflections took Byron Shire Council to court over a ‘deemed refusal’ of activity approval for the southern section of Terrace Reserve. The case was settled in July that year, and Reflections were forced to reduce the number of camping sites, and undertake stronger measures to improve the health of endangered coastal cypress pine forest trees.

Residents had highlighted the declining health of those significant trees under Reflections’ management.  

Reflections Holiday Park Brunswick Heads. Photo Sean O’Meara

Yet foreshore setbacks and other issues appeared to have been negotiated behind closed doors in court – resident Sean O’Meara said at the time that it ‘undermined 15 years of discussions’.

Another resident, Patricia Warren, also asked at the time, ‘How did setbacks even get into the hearing, when the community members and documents to the court were expressly and directly, on advice from Council, focusing on the environmental factors?’

Reflections CEO, Nick Baker, joined the corporation in July 2021, according to its website. Baker is the latest in a long list of CEOs.

Replies to Echo questions by a Reflections spokesperson around their agreement to not block public access were conflicting.

They said, ‘There is no stipulation in the [2014] Plan of Management [POM] for Terrace Reserve regarding a three-metre public pathway along the foreshore’.

They went on to say: ‘Where possible, Reflections has achieved a three-metre setback as per the regulations’.

When asked if Reflections is just adhering to the regulations it wants to, they replied, ‘While there is no stipulation regarding a three-metre public pathway on the foreshore, as a community-minded organisation with a firm understanding of the footprint of the park, Reflections is, where possible, maintaining a three-metre setback from the top of the embankment’.

Reflections Holiday Park Brunswick Heads sites 130 to 135. Photo Sean O’Meara

Resident Sean O’Meara told The Echo, ‘Reflections have once again said one thing and done another. Reflections got their approval to operate for the Terrace Reserve, only when they committed to providing a walkway along the entire foreshore, but three years later virtually nothing [has been] done, and instead of removing encroaching cabins, they are now putting in more’.

Responding to specific claims around erecting cabins on the foreshore that block access, the spokesperson said, ‘Reflections is installing three tiny homes on existing short-term sites that will be compliant with the Local Government (Manufactured Home Estates, Caravan Parks, Camping Grounds and Moveable Dwellings) Regulations 2021. A licensed surveyor will be onsite this week to mark out the boundary in accordance with these regulations’.  

Tiny homes installed

Another resident, Michele Grant, told The Echo, ‘After fighting to get permanent structures off the riverbank, it’s outrageous Reflections now suggests “tiny houses” are appropriate. There’s also licence conditions, which include a 10m setback for all structures’. 

‘The 3m buffer zone is the minimum legal requirement, reiterated in the EPA court judgment. Legally, the 3m mark is the holiday park boundary. A new licence had to be issued after the court case, yet I’ve never seen it on Council’s agenda. [CEO] Steve Edmonds resigned just before the court hearing’. 

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