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Byron Shire
September 21, 2023

Closed door deals on fast-tracked land rezonings

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Up to 1,300 new dwellings could be accommodated in Byron Shire under vague draft fast-track development plans released by the NSW government-run Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation (NRRC) last week. 

Describing it as a ‘unique opportunity’, the glossy The Resilient Land Strategy brochure by NRRC ‘identifies’, but does not disclose, north coast land that will be ‘accelerated for delivery with funding support’.

The plans indicate Saddle Road, located on the highway turn off to Brunswick Heads and Mullumbimby, could house up to 800 homes, while land bordering Bangalow’s south could accommodate 500 homes. 

Another medium-term flood-free parcel of land is also pegged on the indicative map; it is located just west of Bangalow on Bangalow Road heading towards Lismore.

While NRRC are seeking public feedback on the proposals, the plans do not provide any framework that would ensure any newly released land would be ‘affordable’ or directly benefit those affected by the 2022 floods.

However, there was mention of ‘Financial support for social and affordable housing development’, and ‘Innovative housing pilot programs’ worth $100M.

Mute Mayor Michael

Mayor Michael Lyon, who has led closed doors discussions with NRRC, refused to comment to The Echo on the exact locations, nor why he excluded other councillors from negotiations.

Cr Peter Westheimer, who was elected on the mayor’s ticket, told The Echo he ‘would have preferred to be involved’. 

Additionally, local NSW MP Tamara Smith (Greens), told The Echo she was briefed by the NRRC and was told they only consulted with mayors and general mangers.  

She said, ‘I would prefer a more transparent approach where the community genuinely gets to have a say about what will be significant developments across the region, and in the Ballina electorate’. 

322 expressions of interest were received across the region, say the NRRC, and a panel have identified ‘22 potential development sites across the Northern Rivers on both private and public land’.

Approximately 7,800 dwellings could house flood affected residents across the region, it says.

While The Echo was not advised by the NRRC of the document’s release on Friday, local ABC journalists were. 

Elloise Farrow-Smith reported online that Lismore Labor MP, Janelle Saffin, was frustrated at the NRRC’s lack of detail with the plans. 

Farrow-Smith wrote, ‘No-one from the corporation was willing to be interviewed. The ABC was invited to an online briefing about the strategy with the corporation, during which it was forbidden to record or reproduce any part of the briefing. ABC journalists were permitted to ask questions but were not able to use the answers or attribute the comments made by anyone in the briefing’.

NRRC’s Resilient Lands Strategy is available here.

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  1. maybe if Byron council strategic planners actually did some work, council and the community could plan residential accommodation development ourselves, instead nothings happened for years, a residential strategy has not even been forthcoming since the floods, and now the anti-development brigade will complain about a State body coming in over the top and having the power to do development.

    You get what you deserve; selfish interests in the NIMBY community over providing essential housing for people for far too long. Every excuse under the sun gets raised for reasons not to provide more housing from saving farm land to Koala habitat to traffic, yet these people all live in houses right? once their house did not exist too!

    As a builder I see that this community has turned into a bunch of whinging NIMBYs, not everyone, but they are the loudest people in the community, and its all about self – preservation of vanity and self entitlement, nothing more.

    • Mate, absolutely 100% spot on. Whinge about non-existent or microscopic issues (as a cloak to cover entitlement to stop other people moving here when we all moved here at one stage), then whinge that there is no housing.

  2. While The Echo was not advised by the NRRC of the document’s release on Friday, local ABC journalists were.

    Does The Echo have any suspicions about why this occurred?

    • Because they are actually trying to solve the problem, and the Echo is a Greenie paper. The ABC is dodgy enough.

  3. Sounds very dodgy to me. … all behind closed doors, no recording of information, no sharing of information. They don’t want the public to know until its too late to say anything. Yes we need to house people, but its got to be affordable, and transparent.

  4. There is still plenty of development potential in Byron. I noticed a prime development site right in town – it is only a half a metre wide gap between buildings, but it is long, and multiple residents head to toe could reside there, they would just have to decide before they entered, on which of their sides they wanted to lie down on.

  5. Whatever happened to the concept of prime agricultural land? Even Don Page was supportive of its preservation.


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