West Byron

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Council to set lot sizes for West Byron

Luis Feliu & Chris Dobney

Byron Shire Council is to be allowed to determine the size lots and finer detail for the controversial West Byron rezoning for hundreds of new houses, after the state government decided this week to hand some planning power back to the local authority.

But the sting in the tail is that the council will have just 60 days to finalise plans, leading Byron Residents Group to describe it as ‘a political tool in this election’.

Planning department secretary Carolyn McNally has written to Byron shire’s general manager Ken Gainger agreeing with council’s recent request to delegate to council the finalising of the development control plan (DCP) for the West Byron Bay Urban Release Area.

The department said in announcing its move that it had intended to hand back the powers since it made the contentious rezoning in November, but the announcement was only made today and council has only just been informed.

The rezoning for up to 2,000 homes sparked community anger and protests, with many saying it will have detrimental environmental impacts on surrounding wetland and add to the current traffic congestion in the town.

Greens candidate for the seat of Ballina, Tamara Smith.

The department sent council a copy of the draft DCP ‘for it to work with’.

Greens candidate for Ballina Tamara Smith  welcomed the decision, saying the Greens have’ long campaigned for the return of planning powers to local councils ever since they were stripped away under Labor’s notorious part 3A laws’.

Ms Smith said the move was ‘clearly in response to pressure from the community, but it goes no way to recognising the community opposition to this monster development that is out of character with Byron Bay’.

‘Hopefully this will see the end of the tiny 150-square-metre allotments and the imposition of more sensible planning conditions for the low-lying site,’ she said.

‘West Byron is not a “state significant site” and it’s time that the Nationals rescinded the rezoning decision and handed all planning powers for the site back to Council and the community to determine.

‘The Greens are committed to local communities being able plan their own futures and to delivering a planning framework that can’t be bypassed by cashed-up developers.’”
said Tamara Smith.

60-day time limit

Byron Shire mayor Simon Richardson also credited ‘community pressure for returning the situation to ‘normal practice’.

Byron Shire mayor Simon Richardson. Photo Eve Jeffery

‘My understanding is that they may have only given the council 60 days to develop the DCP, which is incredibly short, and we don’t know yet whether that includes a public exhibition period,’ he told ABC radio this morning.

Cr Richardson said that ‘reading the fine print’ it looked as though the planning department could take back the planning power if council was unable to come up with a suitable proposal within the time limit.

He added that the letter from the department only arrived ‘a day or so ago’  and was short on specifics.

He also refuted the department’s claim that it had always had the intention to hand back the planning powers, saying, ‘they had already created a DCP for us and had simply asked us to review theirs.’

Cr Richardson said that it was now council’s intention to ‘ensure that anything that gets on that site is absolute world’s best practice.’

Cate Coorey of Byron Residents’ Group described the announcement as ‘a small victory for the community’.

‘It is a sad indictment of the extent to which planning in NSW is determined by politics, not proper process and community input.

It is clearly community pressure that has prompted this decision but why are they only listening to us now?’ Ms Coorey queried. ‘Planning should be an impartial process.

‘A government department should not be weighing in with a decision like this at election time Its intent is obvious given that the department was only last December trying to rush their version of the DCP through council.

‘Community voices are increasingly loud in rejecting the destruction of Byron Bay through the imposition of the sprawling West Byron mega-suburb.

‘Our rally last Sunday attracted over 1,000 people, we have had online petitions signed by thousands and collected hundreds more signatures on paper so finally the government has not been able to ignore us.

‘The point should be made that the rezoning of West Byron remains the same.

‘What changes is who says what can go on the site and Council is still constrained by the terms of the zoning, which allows lot sizes down to 150 sqm and provides no protection from most of the environmental laws that apply to the rest of Byron Shire,’ Ms Coorey said.

‘Totally misleading’

But Byron Environmental and Conservation Organisation (BEACON) spokesman Dailan Pugh told Echonetdaily the announcement was totally misleading, in that council cannot alter the smaller contentious lot sizes as they were already in the West Byron SEPP.

Mr Pugh said the lot sizes ‘have been established by the West Byron SEPP – the 150-square-metre lot sizes have already been incorporated into our LEP through the SEPP 83(3)’.

‘The DCP cannot alter this… also the claim that the department always intended to hand the DCP back to council is wrong, they never intended to let the council prepare, exhibit or determine the DCP,’ he said.

‘This is a new decision and while I think the department’s media release is intentionally misleading it does state that the handing of the DCP to council “takes this one step further”.’

Mr Pugh said the release also ‘conveys the false impression that we can alter the density without altering the DCP’.

He said the following extract from the West Byron planning documents showed this up:

83(3) Development consent may be granted for a single development application for
development to which this clause applies that is both of the following:

(a) the subdivision of land into 3 or more lots,
(b) the erection of a dwelling house, an attached dwelling or a
semi-detached dwelling on each lot resulting from the subdivision, if
the size of each lot is equal to or greater than:

(i) for the erection of a dwelling house—200 square metres, or
(ii) for the erection of an attached dwelling—150 square metres, or
(iii) for the erection of a semi-detached dwelling—150 square metres. 

Approval is given to rezone land at West Byron Bay despite community opposition

ABC News Fri 7 Nov 2014, 12:53pm

The New South Wales Government has approved the rezoning of land at West Byron Bay which will now allow a major housing development to go ahead despite strong community opposition.

The Government says the development will ease housing affordablity issues in the region and generate up to 800 new jobs during construction.

But the Byron Mayor, Simon Richardson, says the government is using housing affordability as an excuse to get away with inappropriate developments.

He says only the rich will be able to afford the homes.

“You are talking about a couple of kilometres out of Byron Bay, so certainly if you looked at the economics of it one would suggest that the houses would probably be at the high end of the scale,” he said.

“So I do not think anybody would consider that affordable unless you are currently living in Sydney’s rich suburb of Woollahra, or Brighton in Melbourne,” said Mayor Richardson.

“Local decisions should be made by local councils who know the issues and not by people in Sydney,”.

Most Byron residents are opposed to the development and say it will ruin the environment and add to the town’s traffic problems.

Cate Coorey, of the Byron Residents Group, says the government has completely ignored the community’s concerns and gone ahead with the project.

The Group, which fought hard against the development, cited high-use koala habitat, acid sulphate soils, and traffic congestion, as major arguments against it.

Ms Coorey warns that the community will react to the decision.

“Byron residents are known to fight issues like this and we will continue to do so,”.

Images from Sept 20 Rally can be found here……. 

September 20, 21014


Among them, Mayor Simon Richardson, who says the town deserves better than “80s urban sprawl”.

Planning dept refuses to release key West Byron documents

Byron mayor Simon Richardson asks addresses audience members at a community meeting on West Byron on June 11.

Hans Lovejoy

‘Unfair and unbalanced’ is how director of public affairs at the Department of Planning and Environment, Mathew Jones, described The Echo’s story last week on the lack of transparency in his department and its failure to release key documents relating to the proposed West Byron development.

Yet despite repeated calls, we have not seen withheld documents from a freedom of information request, which was lodged by the Byron Residents Group. Those documents include reports or comments to the planning minister on the Belongil Estuary, acid sulphate soils and traffic management.

The freedom of information refusal comes against a backdrop of ICAC findings against various NSW Liberal MPs, who received illegal funds from property developers.

When asked why his department refused to listen to the community’s wishes regarding deferment of West Byron zoning at December’s public meeting, Mr Jones replied, ‘The Department of Planning and Environment has not been formally asked by the community reference group or Byron Shire Council to defer the project.’

‘The community reference group sought an extension to the exhibition period by two months; however an extended exhibition of nine weeks had already been provided to account for the holiday period and so this was not supported.

‘In its most recent correspondence, Council requested that the minister for planning consider a number of matters before making a decision on the proposal, but did not seek a deferral of the proposal.’

June 12,2014

‘Watered down’ West Byron motion passed


Hans Lovejoy

A move by mayor Simon Richardson to ask the state government to defer rezoning West Byron again has failed to get support from a majority of fellow councillors.

Instead, Byron Shire Council will request that concerns regarding one of Byron Bay’s largest ever urban developments be addressed to the minister’s ‘satisfaction’.

The mayor’s concerns, which are echoed by the Byron Residents’ Association, are that traffic and acid sulfate soils studies are inadequate. They are asking for them to be more specific and comprehensive.

Additionally, Cr Richardson asked that any decision be held off until the Byron Coast Comprehensive Koala Plan of Management (KPoM) and the soon-to-be-completed Local Growth Management Strategy (LGMS) is released. The mayor also called for a baseline assessment of the Belongil Creek and estuary to be completed.

‘Minister’s satisfaction’

But an amendment by Cr Sol Ibrahim, seconded by Cr Rose Wanchap, saw a watered down request made to the state government. The motion reads: ‘That due to concerns raised by members of the local community, Council will write to the planning minister Pru Goward requesting that prior to making a decision regarding the rezoning of the West Byron Urban Release Areas the following matters will have been addressed to her satisfaction:

‘1. The traffic study has followed RMS guidelines and reasonably considered all the likely impacts of the traffic generated by the proposed residential and commercial developments.

‘2. The Acid Sulphate Soils Study has been produced and considered in accordance with the Department of Planning’s Acid Sulphate Soils Planning Guidelines.

‘3. That all koala habitat on the site has been identified in accordance with SEPP44 procedures and that it will be protected from damage and disturbance.

‘4.That all other environmental and ecological aspects have been considered in the rezoning.

‘Furthermore Council will seek funding for a baseline assessment of the Belongil creek/estuary from appropriate government departments, including from minister Goward’s.’

Disgusted: Cr Woods

During debate, the mayor said that the development is something that has waited ten years, and should wait a little longer.

‘This is not a discussion on merits; that comes later,’ he said. ‘This is about respecting the community’s wishes for it to be a clear, transparent and trustworthy decision.’

But Cr Di Woods spoke against the mayor’s deferment. ‘It reminds me of the fluoride debate. You say ten years in waiting – that is disgusting. We should be able to determine developments much sooner. Under the previous mayor it was refused, and council said we didn’t have the resources. The developers said they will supply the resources but it was still refused. I have seen people who own that land go bankrupt. It’s not the proponent’s fault that this is with the minister. Acid sulphate and traffic can be dealt with – let’s work with them, get the zoning and move on.’

Gallery objects

At that point, the full gallery murmured ’shame’, prompting Cr Ibrahim to say it was unacceptable for the gallery to interject.

Cr Ibrahim then moved his amendment and spoke in favour of the development while also expressing concerns for due process and environmental protection.

‘None of us want to see the destruction of the environment, but we all want the bypass built… No one is talking about employment – how many tradies are in the room?’

On a Thursday morning, it would be fair to say none.

Cr Richardson spoke against the amendment: ‘My motion gives more details: this has no consideration of planning or local growth management; this doesn’t mention a koala plan of management but instead is vague and broad.’

‘Least appropriate place’

Cr Rose Wanchap reminded the gallery that the development will be released over 20 years. ‘The market is not dictated by the owner, but the purchaser. It’s so expensive here because there have been no new developments in years. We are rejecting the possibility that our children could buy here… I have studied the reports, and believe due process has been followed. This has been on exhibition twice. Let’s take the risk.’

In Cr Richardson’s right of reply, he agreed the need for housing and jobs, but said that the, ‘Development Control Plan (DCP) is useless as the state government has gutted it; it only has to be considered. To put faith into that is staggering.

‘What is the difference between the Sunrise estate and this? West Byron is on lower ground, which will give more issues. It’s not the same. This is the last and worst bit of land to build on and the least appropriate place for such a development,’ he said.

Amendment ‘lacks strength’

The Byron Residents Group, which held a meeting opposing the development on Wednesday night,says the altered motion ‘lacks the strength to achieve the community’s desired outcome’.

‘This amended motion doesn’t ask any hard questions of the department and gives the minister plenty of room to offer standard replies to questions being asked,’ group spokesperson Cate Coorey said.

‘Many of our supporters have already been getting these simple and dismissive replies from the department,’ she added.

‘The amendment removed from the mayor’s motion a request of the minister that the Growth Management Strategy be in place before a rezoning occurred.

The strategy, which is a condition of the gazetted Far North Coast Regional Strategy, would allow the community to have a say in how and where development occurs in our area.

‘The amendment also removed the mayor’s request that the Byron Coastal Koala Plan of Management be in place before the rezoning is done as the proposed rezoning would allow for significant building in core koala habitat,’ Ms Coorey said.


June 10,2014

Echonet Daily

Mayor again bids to stall govt’s West Byron decision

Byron Shire mayor Simon Richardson. Photo Eve Jeffery

Byron Shire mayor Simon Richardson is hoping fellow councillors will support him in a bid to ask the state government to defer a decision on the controversial West Byron development.

In a notice of motion due to be put at this Thursday’s council meeting, Cr Richardson notes ‘the deep concern of the broad community regarding the adequacy of the planning processes as part of the assessment of suitability for rezoning the West Byron Urban Release Area’ and calls for Council to ‘request the minister of planning [Pru Goward] to defer the assessment of suitability for rezoning the West Byron Urban Release Area’.

The move follows an urgency motion on the same issue at last month’s meeting, which failed on the vote of fellow Greens Party councillor Rose Wanchap.

Studies called for

The deferment would depend on a comprehensive traffic study ‘that follows RMS (formerly RTA) guidelines and accounts for the all impacts of the traffic generated by the full 1,100 homes and all the traffic generated by the proposed retail and light industrial businesses’.

Cr Richardson also wants a ‘site-specific acid sulfate soils study’.

‘This is fundamental to assessing the site’s suitability for the proposed … zoning and would assess the likely impacts of the proposed development and associated drainage works on the health of the Belongil estuary.’

Cr Richardson also wants to see the Byron Coast Comprehensive Koala Plan of Management (KPoM) and the Local Growth Management Strategy (LGMS) completed before the development site is considered for rezoning.

Given past voting patterns it is unlikely the mayor will have the numbers to get his motion up. Of the nine-member council Crs Cubis, Hunter, Wanchap, Woods and Ibrahim are likely to vote against the motion.

In related news the Byron Residents’ Group has called an urgent meeting to discuss the West Byron plans. The meeting will be held at the Byron Sport and Cultural Complex on Wednesday June 11 at 6.30pm.

Northern Star

Mayor’s West Byron Development motion defeated by council

AN URGENCY motion calling on the State Government to defer rezoning of the 108ha West Byron Development was defeated at yesterday’s Byron Shire Council meeting.

Councillors instead voted that the motion, put by Mayor Simon Richardson, was not urgent and would not be considered.

The motion would have asked the government to defer any decision regarding the land re-zoning until a comprehensive traffic study was undertaken, a site-specific acid sulphate soils study has been produced, the Byron Coast Comprehensive Koala Plan of Management is completed, as is both the Local Growth Management Strategy and a baseline assessment of the Belongil creek/estuary.

Cr Richardson said he was particularly disappointed.

“This is clearly a contentious development which warrants discussion,” he said. “We know the decision from the department is imminent, and with a new planning minister, Pru Goward, taking over, we need fresh eyes over it.”

NBN News


 May 22, 2014
 Byron Mayor Simon Richardson has failed to get a motion on the West Byron Development debated in council this morning.

He’s wants the state government to give council greater planning power over the thousand-home development.

Echonet daily

Greens councillor defeats West Byron motion

Crossed the floor: Byron Shire Greens Councillor Rose Wanchap

Hans Lovejoy & Chris Dobney

Byron Greens Cr Rose Wanchap has crossed the floor on an urgency motion over the proposed West Byron development, siding with pro-development councillors against her own party to see the motion defeated.

During public access time at yesterday’s Byron Shire Council meeting, two community group members questioned whether she had a conflict of interest and should remove herself from the vote.

The renegade councillor and Byron Bay real estate agent was later tackled over the issue by a fellow Greens member outside the chamber.

Mayor Simon Richardson’s motion followed intense lobbying from the Byron Residents’ Group and was considered ‘urgent’ as the department of planning and environment is likely to make its decision within the next few weeks.

If approved, the planned estate of up to 1,100 dwellings in reclaimed wetlands would be the largest-ever development in Byron Shire.

Echonetdaily understands the motion will be re-presented at next month’s meeting but not as an urgency motion.

Tensions ran high during morning public access after the Byron Residents’ Group’s Cate Coorey and Philip Shine asked councillors whether, as a real estate agent,  it was a conflict of interest that Cr Wanchap was voting on the development’s future.

Cr Richardson called the question out of order owing to a recent change in policy, which sees questions not being accepted during public access.

Mr Shine, from the Byron Residents’ Group, later told Echonetdaily, ‘We are not casting aspersions on whether Cr Wanchap has any conflicts of interests, but we wanted to know what the parameters are’.

During a break following morning access, a squabble erupted after former Greens council candidate, Jim Beatson, accused Ms Wanchap of a conflict of interest – something she vehemently denied.

National Party councillor Chris Cubis intervened and an argument ensued outside the chambers.

During public access Byron Residents’ Group’s Cate Coorey made mention of 2,389 signatories to a petition asking local member Don Page to intervene and stop the rezoning.

‘Of those [signatories], more than half are from people in the 2481 or adjoining postcodes,’ she said.

But those concerns were not shared by councillors, with Crs Alan Hunter, Chris Cubis, Di Woods, Sol Ibrahim and Rose Wanchap winning the vote against mayor Simon Richardson, Crs Duncan Dey and Basil Cameron.

May 22, 2014, EchoNet Daily

West Byron development monstrous: mayor

Map showing the location of the proposed West Byron Project. Source westbyronproject.com.au

The Byron Residents Group has commended mayor Simon Richardson for bringing on an urgency motion at today’s council meeting urging the state government to knock back the controversial proposed development at West Byron.

If approved, the planned estate of up to 1,100 dwellings in reclaimed wetlands would be the largest-ever development in Byron Shire

The future of the ‘state significant’ development is expected be decided by the government in coming weeks.

Cr Richardson said he was not opposed to development per se but that ‘it’s all about scale’.

‘A couple of hundred houses on that site would be fine,’ he told ABC radio this morning, ‘but a thousand is a monstrous addition.’

Cate Coorey of the Byron Residents’ Group said she was ‘pleased that the mayor shares our concern that the department of planning has not followed due process with regard to the rezoning, in some cases not even following its own guidelines.’

In particular, she said the department had allowed studies referring to significant koala habitat and acid sulphate soils to be withheld from public exhibitions concerning the rezoning.

‘They have also allowed a traffic assessment to be included that is seriously flawed and does not follow Roads and Maritime Services guidelines,’ Ms Coorey said.

‘These irregularities have meant that the community was not properly informed as to potential negative impacts of the development so they could not make an unbiased assessment about the rezoning.

‘The department has not demanded an acid sulfate soil study be undertaken of the site which goes against its own guidelines for rezoning. Since 77 per cent of the site is acid sulphate soil affected, the potential for major damaging impacts on Belongil Estuary and adjoining Cape Byron Marine Park is very real.

‘The developers have grossly under-estimated the likely traffic impacts of West Byron. The Department of Planning and Infrastructure’s proposed zoning of West Byron allows for up to 1,100 houses rather than the 856 assumed in the developer’s traffic studies.

‘Byron Shire Council’s own 2009 traffic study assessed that the development of West Byron would result in a 12.6 per cent growth in traffic rather than the 8 per cent claimed by the developers.

‘An adequate independent assessment of the traffic impacts of West Byron upon which the minister for planning can approve this rezoning is yet to be done.

‘Given that core koala habitat has been identified on the site, it would be premature to allow rezoning until a proper assessment of the risk to koalas is conducted that conforms to Byron Council’s Draft Koala Plan Of Management which will come before council in July,’ Ms Coorey said.

1 Response to West Byron

  1. Cindy Nielsen says:

    Byron Shire may need to take the State Government to court over West Byron (and other areas where the State Govt feels they can have a paternal role). I live in the Noosa Shire, and our Council has taken both the neighbouring Shire Council and the State Government to court over development issues. And the good news is – they won each time. Byron needs to stand up to the bullying tactics of its big brother – it’s not acceptable behaviour in either a person or a governing body.

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