The general public will have a chance to have their say on the future of Byron tomorrow in Bay Lane behind the Beach Hotel from 4pm at the first public consultation session in the Byron Bay masterplan process.
What is loved , what must be changed and why? Consultants McGregor Coxall will be looking for ‘big ideas’ from everyone.
Indeed, the ‘activation’ of the town’s lanes is one of the initiatives of the plan that will be showcased this coming weekend as part of the Byron Bay Surf Festvial.
A session early this morning with about 40 business people resulted in a map full of ideas, one of the early steps in developing a long term plan that, according to Byron Shire mayor Simon Richardson, will be funded and implemented.
While the final masterplan is not expected until after September 2015, pilot schemes like tomorrow’s Bay Lane activation – with street food stalls and entertainment, kids’ activities and art installations – are already underway.
Council Resolution and Report- November 21, 2013
Byron Bay Town Centre and Foreshore Strategy
1. Council resolves to allocate $250,000 from the following budget areas to develop a Byron Bay Town Centre and Foreshore Strategy:
a) $50,000 Crown Paid Parking Beach Reserve R82000
b) $50,000 Main Beach Reserve R82000
c) $150,000 Byron Bay Town Centre Upgrade
2. That Council endorse the Byron Bay Town Centre and Foreshore Strategy Scope of Works as outlined within this report.
The success of town centres is reliant on a number of elements working simultaneously and in alignment around a common goal. Traditionally town centre strategies have been separated into different streams, often unrelated, and sometimes at odds with one another. For example, planning may be designed to attract investment through incentivised development regulations while economic development may be focussed on local business retention and growth. These may not look like they are in conflict until the higher rents demanded by new developments forces out small business and attracts franchises that export profits out of the area.
These types of challenges are considered in master planning and place making, which aims to deconstruct a place holistically in order to understand what is influencing change, then subsequently using this understanding to encourage an ‘organic’ evolution of that place. In particular, a strategic place making approach identifies challenges as well as the appropriate tools for responding to them whether they be social (demographic), cultural (behaviours), economic or environmental (physical/landuse/built form). A successful urban design strategy will also be flexible to changes in the ideals of the community and advances in modern living.
A holistic Town Centre Strategy for Byron has the potential to act as the framework for all decision making regarding the centre. Once the strategy has been formulated, it will provide a brief for the implementation plans that are delivered through planning, design, community or economic development. With a guiding Town Centre Strategy in place, all Council and stakeholder actions endeavours can contribute to the shared vision and desired change. A Town Centre Strategy offers clarity and direction. It provides the opportunity for alignment around our future priorities and improved efficiency in reaching that shared vision.
In August 2013, Council prepared a funding application for the Federal Government’s Tourism Industry Regional Development Fund (TIRF) for the development of a Byron Bay Town Centre and Foreshore Strategy. The objective of the TIRF grants program is to increase the quality and range of visitor experiences in regional Australia by encouraging investment in improving/upgrading products and infrastructure, developing new innovative products and increasing tourism labour supply, quality of service, levels of innovation and labour force productivity. This funding program aligns with the Tourism 2020 growth projections and objectives around productivity, innovation and quality.
The successful grant recipients were expected to be announced in October. However, due to the change in federal government, the Minister of Finance has announced a review of all grant programs. This review is still ongoing and the Department of Finance is yet to advise on the status of the TIRF grant program.
Management believes the Byron Bay Town Centre and Foreshore Strategy is a significant project that is critical to the future reputation and economic stability of Byron Bay as an iconic place to visit, live and do business. Should Council be unsuccessful in its TIRF grant application, management is seeking Councils full-endorsement of this project by committing $250,000 to develop the Byron Bay Town Centre and Foreshore Strategy.
At present, there is no integrated town centre strategy for Byron Bay that includes a master plan, public domain and place making strategy (which includes the development of an appropriate night-time economy). As a result, we have a town centre that is run-down, incoherent and in desperate need of revitalisation to create a more liveable town for its residents and hold on to its reputation as an attractive and vibrant destination for international and domestic visitors.
Over time, lack of adequate planning has resulted in the night-time economy being dominated by licensed entertainment venues, which has changed the visitor mix over time. This change in visitor mix has caused anti-social behaviour and angst between the tourism industry, business community and the resident population. A town centre strategy (with a strong focus on place making) that promotes the town’s natural environment, relaxed atmosphere, spiritual and cultural diversity, health and well-being experiences and innovative enterprises, will provide a consistent image for Byron Bay. This will help to attract appropriate overnight visitor markets, extend length of stay and encourage visitor dispersal across the Shire. An innovative place making strategy will also provide a vibrant and diverse town centre for the resident population to enjoy.
Resident and visitor feedback
Resident and visitor research conducted in 2011 further supports the need for a Byron Bay Town Centre and Foreshore Strategy. Refer to the key findings below.
As part of the community consultation conducted for Council’s Community Strategic Plan (CSP), residents provided their top outcomes for the Shire. The key findings were as follows:
1. 81 per cent of respondents stated that Council should renew and maintain its existing infrastructure
2. 65.7 per cent of respondents supported a diverse economic base
3. 47.8 per cent of respondents requested that Council develop new infrastructure
Residents were also asked a range of open ended questions about their vision for Shire. Please see the responses below relevant to the development of the Town Centre Strategy for Byron Bay:
- ‘CBD needs a make-over…
- ‘Byron is losing its heart.’
- ‘Create a vision for Byron Shire to live up to locals and visitors expectations.’
- ‘…the town is dirty….’
- ‘Creative spaces need to be increased, e.g. outdoor galleries.’
- ‘We could improve our creative arts by integrating it into the town’s style.’
- ‘develop new infrastructure that is creative, unique and sustainable.’
- ‘The community facilities are run down – the toilets, gardens and there are very few historical information boards or interpretive information in the area.’
- ‘plant more shade trees in CBD, more sitting places for the elderly/mothers/disabled – more water fountains, open air gym, walkway through CBD instead of traffic, one way shared walking, landscaped with gardens. Turn Main Beach car park into a park. More toilets in town.’
- ‘Street lights are lacking, especially back lanes…’
- ‘… concentrate on forward planning for this growing Shire.’
- ‘integrated transport including bicycle ways, one-way street in Byron CBD and extensive pedestrian lanes.’
- ‘new infrastructure – skate park and children’s play area next to Clarks Beach car park. More benches and tables along Lawson Street park area.’
- ‘An art gallery in the shire would be very good.’
- ‘the town of Byron Bay needs a museum, the town has so much history, and it should be shared with visitors and the people who live here.’
Byron Bay is iconic destination that attracts 1.4 million domestic and international visitors annually and is the number one destination in regional New South Wales for international visitors. It is important that the tourism industry is protected and fostered as it is the principal driver of the Shire’s economy. In 2011, tourism expenditure was estimated at $382 million and employment arising from this expenditure was estimated at 2,500 full-time equivalent jobs.
In 2011, Council in partnership with Destination NSW and Tourism Research Australia commissioned a Visitor Profile and Satisfaction Survey. The survey uncovered that one third of visitors were extremely dissatisfied with the community infrastructure and local amenity in Byron Bay. In addition, 56 per cent of visitors were motivated to visit Byron Shire for the ‘enjoyable entertainment and night-life’ (this is 36 points above the national survey average). This confirms Byron Bay’s reputation as a party-town.
Byron Bay as a destination has an international reputation and is of global significance and by creating an integrated town centre strategy will ensure the destination retains its appeal and unique character. A town centre strategy will also assist in attracting appropriate overnight visitor markets, extend length of stay and encourage visitor dispersal across the Shire. An innovative night-time economy will also convert day visitors to overnight visitors, which will reduce the impacts on Council’s infrastructure and provide a further injection of funds into the night-time economy.
Place Making – defined
Place making is the process through which we collectively shape our public realm to maximize shared value. Rooted in community-based participation, place making involves the planning, design, management and programming of public spaces. More than just creating better urban design of public spaces, place making facilitates creative patterns of activities and connections (cultural, economic, social, ecological) that define a place and support its ongoing evolution.
An effective place making strategy capitalises on a local community’s assets, aspirations, and potential, ultimately creating great public spaces that promote people’s health, happiness, and well being. Place making is about facilitating the creation of positive and desired day-to-day experiences for the community.
An robust place making strategy can energise an area during daylight hours by activating spaces for families, providing cultural events and places simply to enjoy the Byron ‘vibe’. It also has the ability to transform a destination by expanding the night-time economy by providing alternate visitor and resident experiences that are focussed towards health and wellbeing, the arts, events, food and music.
Town Centre Master Plan – defined
Master Planning is a strategic process that develops an overall design and layout for an area. The process considers the current and future needs of the community to develop a concept plan that designs facilities, infrastructure and areas to best meet these identified needs.
The Byron Bay Town Centre and Foreshore Strategy
Through the inclusion of the master plan and the use of place making principles, the Byron Bay Town Centre and Foreshore Strategy will, at a minimum, focus on the nodes of activity shown in the map below. The laneways and streets connecting these focal points are also considered as part of the scope of works.
The Town Centre Strategy will deliver actions to breathe new life into Byron Bay. It will create an interesting and vibrant town centre with a cohesive urban fabric which responds to the needs of residents, business and visitors, while celebrating the unique cultural and social diversity of the town. The urban form of the town will be sensitive to the environmental features of the area.
A summary of the Byron Bay Town Centre Strategy scope of works is provided below.
- a draft consultancy brief has been developed by management and this brief mirrors the scope of works provided below and will be used as part of the tender process.
- Once the project commences, following extensive consultation the scope of works may be revised to respond to feedback from the community, industry and visitors.
1. Create a public domain strategy:
As part of the public domain development, the following considerations should be addressed in addition to any other considerations that are identified as part of the Master Plan process.
Creating key nodes of activity within the town centre, to include:
a) an identifiable town heart, which may include a town square and pedestrian mall. This could be within the Railway Park Precinct and/or Jonson Street.
b) Cultural hub(s), which provide a sense of place and identity and expresses the artistic culture, heritage, Indigenous cultural values and history of Byron Bay.
c) Provide provision for a museum, art gallery and/or education/interpretive hub.
d) Create a foreshore space at main beach, which could include an events space, café and other small scale commercial opportunities.
e) Create interactive play areas and open space recreation for families.
f) Consider the land surrounding the YAC and Byron Bay Library as a potential youth hub.
g) Create a key focal point between Main Beach and Clarkes Beach
h) Make small scale public spaces an important feature of the public domain
i) Create comfortable spaces for activities where visitors and residents from a diverse range of backgrounds can interact or collaborate as well as spaces where people can relax and enjoy Byron Bay’s sense of place, cultural heritage and character.
j) Embed public art into the public domain to enrich the towns character and provide
additional resident and visitor attractions.
k) Ensure the iconic beaches and hinterland are featured and celebrated.
2. Access and Movement
A well connected system to access and move efficiently through the Byron Bay Town Centre is crucial. The following factors should be taken into consideration:
a) Highlight pedestrian movement as the preferred mode of transport through the town centre by designing to encourage pedestrianism. This means making the town centre attractive, accessible and safe for people to move around in.
b) Activate laneways to encourage their use as alternative pedestrian routes and provide provisions to create themed trails for visitors (which may include themed murals and pop up shops along the laneways).
c) Create strong pedestrian linkages between all nodes of activity by providing key infrastructure to assist this.
d) Create an integrated transport hub which acts as an interchange between the different modes of transport – consider railway park and Butler Street Reserve as the location for the integrated transport hub as one option.
e) Develop a transit centre to cater for increased domestic and international visitor demand.
f) Integrate the approved Byron Bay town bypass into the planning of the movement system and the main transport hub.
g) Development and integration of a park and ride initiative into the planning of the access and movement system and consideration of the impact of parking spaces in the town centre.
h) Accommodate and encourage bicycles and skateboards as legitimate forms of transportation.
i) Improving public transport services – the possibility of introducing new routes, frequencies and reasonable fares.
j) Create strong transport linkages between key nodes outside the town centre into the key focal areas and transport hub.
3. Economic Opportunities
In order to sustain activity in the Byron Bay town centre, economic opportunities need to be provided, and existing businesses need to be supported. The following points need to be considered:
a) Create an integrated Place Making Strategy, which includes a focussed element on the night-time economy in Byron Bay.
b) Identify Spaces for potential commercial activity, such as cafés/lockers and infrastructure to support the artisan and farmers markets and provide additional platforms for increased visitor spend.
c) Providing a high-quality public domain that attracts visitors to the town.
d) Providing incentives for development of commercial uses such as concessions on development requirements.
e) Marketing and branding of Byron Bay focussing on why visitors should come to the town and increase their length of stay.
4. Urban Form and Aesthetics
The built form bears great influence on the character of the public domain. Building heights and setbacks are key in defining spaces. Whilst streetscape elements of the public domain help to define the character of a town centre, the following factors should be addressed in the framework and plan:
a) Develop a streetscape plan which includes the identification of:
i. Theme/s and design guidelines that reflect the character of precincts within the town centre.
ii. A design palette for each precinct which addresses at least the following elements:
- Shade structures/awnings
- Bicycle parking
- Public seating
- Landscaping structures
- Rubbish bins
b) Ensure the design, architecture and building materials selected align to the desired character of Byron Bay.
c) Investigate ideal street proportions and development standards to achieve this.
d) Active frontages to buildings encourage pedestrian activity thereby promoting a sense of community and vibrancy as well as providing surveillance for safety.
e) Create undercover pedestrian walk ways that provide shelter from extreme heat and wet weather.
f) Preserving views within the town centre to the iconic natural features of Byron Bay.
g) Ensure all visitor attractions and transport nodes include multi-lingual interpretative information and displays.
|Milestone||Milestone details||Deliverable(s)||Start date||Finish date||Payment %|
|1||Project inception and team briefingBriefing on the consultation methodology and implementation schedule||Inception meetingOnsite walk through the Town Centre and Foreshore Precincts||6/1/14||8/1/14||10%|
|2||Detailed consultation strategy with the community, industry and visitors.||Consultation methodology and implementation schedule provided to Council||13/1/14||7/2/14||30%|
|HOLD POINT – Council review the consultation methodology and implementation schedule|
|2a||Full literature review of previous works, town centre plans and plans of management.Review of consultation and draft Town Centre Strategy||Desktop review of current plans provided to Council.Consultation report complete and draft master plan and place making strategy provided.||7/2/14||29/8/14||20%|
|HOLD POINT – Council review of draft Town Centre and Foreshore Strategy|
|3||Review final master plan, place making strategy and stage 1 implementation schedule||Temporary space activation trial of a series of place making strategies.Final Master Plan delivered to include 3D drawings and scaled models of the proposed town centre and foreshore master planFinal place making strategy delivered.Staged implementation schedule and action plan provided to include revised plans of management for the Crown Reserve from Main Beach to Clarkes Beach, Railway Park and the Butler Street Reserve.||3/11/14||6/2/15||30%|
|HOLD POINT – Council review of final Master Plan, place making strategy and scaled drawings. These documents will be presented to Council for final approval.|
|3a||Final Master Plan, Place Making Strategy and Drawings provided||The Byron Bay Town Centre and Foreshore Master Plan and Place Making Strategy endorsed by Council, the Byron Shire Council Executive Team.||6/2/15||27/5/15||10%|
Shire-wide benefits of a Strategy for Byron Bay
The economic and social benefits of investing in the Byron Bay Town Centre and Foreshore strategy will permeate to all areas of the Shire. Residents will have a new sense of pride for their town with an innovative strategy that incorporates development and planning that is sensitive to their needs and true to Byron Shire’s character, history and sense of place. Residents will also enjoy a range of new facilities and infrastructure, which will provide wet-weather and extreme heat options and a thriving night-time economy focussed on food, art, culture, couples and families.
The business community will thrive as Byron Bay is a key visitor dispersal point to the 1.4m visitors that frequent to the Shire every year. Once the town centre is revitalised, target markets will shift to a higher yield and lower impact visitor. At present, visitor dispersal is as follows:
- 32 per cent Bangalow
- 31 per cent Brunswick Heads
- 28 per cent in Mullumbimby
By converting domestic day visitors to overnight visitors and attracting higher yielding markets, all the surrounding towns and villages will receive the economic benefit.
This investment into a Byron Bay Town Centre and Foreshore strategy is critical in retaining Byron Bay’s reputation as one of Australia’s most iconic visitor destinations. We can not afford to be complacent and expect high-yield/low impact visitors to be attracted to the Shire without providing world-class place-making and master planning that honours the character and spirit of Byron Shire. Tourism is the life-blood of the local economy.
The residents of Byron Shire will have an increased sense of pride and ownership through sincere and detailed involvement in the place making and master planning process to ensure the character of the town in captured and celebrated in an authentic way. Byron Bay will retain its charm and provide quality infrastructure, programming and planning to ensure that Byron Shire is a great place to live, work and visit.
There is also an opportunity for commercial partnerships and revenue raising capability for Council through encouraging activity and developing the foreshore between Main Beach and Clark’s Beach.
The Byron Bay Town Centre and Foreshore Master Plan will be managed by the Economic Development team. The Economic Development team includes the newly appointed Economic Development and Tourism Coordinator and direct report, the tourism officer. Project management will include:
- run the tender process
- manage the appointed consultants
- ensure the project budget is met
- ensure the scope of works is delivered
- ensure project milestones delivered and met
- ensure an extensive and robust consultation process is employed
- coordinate the internal working group
- provide regular updates to the Executive Team and Councillors.
Economic Development will also form a cross-directorate internal working group. This group will meet regularly and provide feedback and direction on relevant aspects of the master plan where additional staff expertise is required.
The Byron Bay Town Centre and Foreshore Strategy is estimated to cost $250,000.00. The budget will be met as follows.
|Budget area||Budget amount|
|Crown Paid Parking Beach Reserve R82000||$50,000|
|Main Beach Reserve R82000||$50,000|
|S94 Byron Bay Town Centre Upgrade||$150,000|
While the Byron Bay Town Centre and Foreshore Strategy is being developed, management will develop a funding implementation strategy which will include:
- Applications to state and government funding bodies
- development of a strategy to attract private and corporate investment
- investigating available philanthropic funds
- Look at viable commercial partnerships to create additional revenue and investment
- allocate 1.2m from the s94 community facilities fund