Becton's fresh bid for Belongil beach

A NEW development application has been lodged by Melbourne developers Becton for the controversial former Club Med site at Belongil Beach.

The fresh bid ? for 117 tourist villas with a total of 290 bedrooms ? is a marked reduction of the 379 holiday homes Becton had proposed previously.

The plan calls for a mix of one, two and three-bedroom villas and a motel and replaces a holiday homes proposal. It drew criticism for looking more like a residential housing subdivision than a tourist venue.

While the scale of the development is slightly bigger than the council's development control plans for the site, Byron Shire mayor Jan Barham welcomed the reduced size of Becton's new plans, saying some of the key environmental objectives appeared to have been met, including buffer zones.

"This is such an important site for us," she said. "I want something that is the best possible tourist development that we can have."

Becton CEO Hamish Macdonald described the new proposal as an extremely conservative and unobtrusive use of the land and added it would bring extensive environmental benefits.

Becton stated that the villas would be built on land already cleared, or where cabins presently stand. It would occupy only 1.7 per cent of the 92ha site.

There is uncertainty over who will ultimately be the authorising consent body for the development ? the State Government or Byron Shire Council.

The new DA has been lodged with the State Government pending the outcome of a court case to decide who will have the authority. In any case, NSW Planning Minister Frank Sartor has the option of calling the development in under NSW planning legislation dealing with developments deemed to be of State significance or those valued at more than $50 million.

Mr Sartor has met separately with Becton officials and Byron council and said he wanted to get the developers and council to work out their differences. Council must now provide an assessment of the DA for the Minister's office.

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