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Byron Shire
July 16, 2024

Heritage-listed Bangalow property approved as wedding venue

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Jelbon Leigh House, also known as Hinterland House, is currently used for holiday letting but its owners want to host wedding events. Photo Byron Shire Council

Having an outdoor wedding venue next to a cemetery might seem a strange union at first glance. But perhaps in the case of Bangalow’s Hinterland House, it will turn out to be a match made in heaven.

That certainly seemed to be the view of a majority of Byron councillors last week, when they gave the owners of the iconic heritage-listed property permission to host weddings and other events on the site, despite the fact that it is located next to the Bangalow Cemetery.

Council staff recommended that the heritage house was not a suitable location for an outdoor wedding venue, but councillors disagreed, voting to approve its use for this purpose by a vote of five to two.

The venue now has permission to run outdoor weddings and other events for up to 150 people until 2027.

It will be bound by a series of conditions, including that only 20 events can be held per year and that each must adhere to strict noise and access rules.

‘I don’t see any good reason to knock this back,’ said Independent Cr Alan Hunter, who moved the motion to approve the application. 

He said, ‘It’s a beautiful spot, it’s a glorious building. I think it’s a good use of it and an opportunity to enhance the Byron brand.’

Land-use conflict 

Council staff had argued that having busloads of wedding guests travelling through a place of commemoration and mourning represented a significant land use conflict with negative social consequences.

There would also be potential noise impacts on neighbouring residential properties, they said.

It was clear at the meeting that at least some within the Bangalow community shared these concerns.

‘I think Council’s decision becomes a matter of respecting elders past and present,’ local resident, Ian Holmes, told the meeting, referring to the first white families who lived on the land. 

‘Many of the descendants of the pioneering families are still buried in the cemetery. Resting in peace is a basic right.’

But Matt Walker, a town planning consultant assisting Hinterland House’s owners said there was unlikely to be a significant conflict.

‘There are approximately 13 funerals a year [at the cemetery], which occur randomly during the week and rarely on weekends, so the chances of a clash would be very limited,’ Mr Walker told the meeting.

Mr Walker also pointed out that, since Council included a specific clause relating to temporary events in its LEP three years ago, only one other site had been approved as a wedding venue.

A majority of councillors voted in favour, including Deputy Mayor Sarah Ndiaye (Greens), Alan Hunter (Independent), Mark Swivel (Independent), and Peter Westheimer (Independent).

Greens councillor Duncan Dey and Independent Cate Coorey voted against.

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  1. Well, this is a wonderful decision for the Community
    a delightful Venue for Weddings & I’m sure Wakes,
    or any other celebration of Communities lives.


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