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Byron Shire
July 16, 2024

Broken Head Quarry development plan rears its head once again

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Preliminary Concept Layout Plan of the the Broken Head quarry site, which is located on Broken Head Road, Suffolk Park. Image: Council agenda

Long-dormant plans to turn the former Broken Head Quarry site into a residential development have lumbered out of the bush like a bewildered dinosaur.

And much like our ancient reptilian friends, the proposal seems destined for extinction, at least in its current form.

The agenda for this week’s Council meeting reveals that a group calling itself ‘Crisjoy Pty Ltd as trustee for the Lighthouse Unit Trust’ has submitted a planning proposal that would involve approximately 92 residential lots and a host of associated road, water and sewerage infrastructure.

Council staff have recommended that councillors vote to oppose the proposal, citting a laundry list of failings.

The recommendation came as a pleasant surprise to former state MLC and Byron Mayor, Jan Barham, who has fought long and hard to protect the fragile ecosystems around her Broken Head home.

‘Any further development impact on this site is unwarranted, and it’s time for nature to prevail after the devastating impacts of decades of sand and gravel extraction,’ Ms Barham said of the former quarry site.

‘Council’s merit assessment report identifies the major constraints to the site being transformed to residential and rightly opposes the zone change…’

Ms Barham also noted that in 2018, the Department of Planning had made an ‘enforceable undertaking’ whereby the former quarry site would rehabilitated, something which staff did not mention in their report.

The latest planning proposal is the first time in ten years that the owners of the land, which lies on the western side of Broken Head Road, have sought to develop it.

Last proposal in 2014

Back in 2014, they proposed a much smaller 41-lot residential development, which was refused by Byron Council on the grounds that it would impact threatened species and areas of Aboriginal cultural significance.

Now, like a Jurassic Park sequel, the plan is back and it’s bigger than ever.

The latest planning proposal requests that approximately 11.8 hectares of land zoned RU1 Primary Production be rezoned to R2 Low Density Residential.

It also proposes to apply a maximum floor space ratio of 0.6:1.

The applicant has further offered a voluntary planning agreement (VPA) that includes the construction of a shared pedestrian and cycle path linking the site to Suffolk Park, and offered to dedicate 20 per cent of the lots to Council to be used for the purpose of affordable housing.

The preliminary concept plan indicates possible road and intersection locations and a lot layout indicating approximately 92 residential lots of various sizes between 383m2 and 1505m2.

The role of Council when it receives a planning proposal is to prepare a merit assessment report and decide whether or not it supports the planning proposal. It is not the consent authority. In response to the proposal, Council engaged Mike Svikis Planning to undertake strategic and site-specific merit tests.

These tests found that the planning proposal failed to meet the relevant criteria for a successful proposal.

Threatened species

A key reason for this finding was that the proposed development would have an unavoidable impact on threatened species and threatened ecological communities. It would impact on native vegetation that occupies 56 per cent of the development site, and this did not include the impact of off-site development such as the proposed shared path and infrastructure such as road widening, pipelines and pump stations.

The assessment further found that the proposal was not adequately supported by reports or assessments of the subject land. This included reports examining whether the former quarry site was sufficiently stable to support residential development.

There were also issues of erosion, soil contamination, traffic generation, and the developer’s failure to in any way explore the site’s Aboriginal cultural heritage.

This is despite the fact that, according to Council staff, there is likely to be at least one Aboriginal site located on or near the subject land.

Lastly, and crucially, staff found that the proposed housing was not needed and was not in keeping with any of its residential strategies.

Efforts to contact the developer, Crisjoy Pty Ltd – which has no publicly-accessible website, phone number or email address – were unsuccessful. Similarly, efforts to contact the Winten Property Group were unsuccessful.

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