Car-free mall plan for Byron Bay
By SAMANTHA TURNBULL
MULLUMBIMBY architect and builder Arion Ocean wants to transform the Byron Bay central business district into a car-free outdoor mall.
The owner of Sacred Space Architecture has presented plans to the Byron Shire Council for what he has called the 'New Byron Esplanade', which involves turning Jonson Street into a pedestrian thoroughfare, from Byron Street to the main beachfront.
However, Byron Shire mayor Jan Barham said she had her own ideas on how to transform the Byron Bay town centre.
Cr Barham will lodge a motion at today's council meeting for a report to be prepared on the possibility of creating more one-way streets in town, employing a 'lollipop' person to manage pedestrians and creating all-day parking in Butler Street.
"All of these things could help ease traffic congestion in town and hopefully by next summer we'll see a real difference," she said.
"At the moment we need to get the basics done, like catching up on traffic management, streetscaping and lighting."
The fate of Mr Ocean's idea will depend on the approval of a Byron Bay bypass to redirect traffic away from the town centre.
Mr Ocean has already begun drafting a letter to seek support from business owners.
"What is crucial is to support the financial viability of downtown businesses through drawing people to the centre of Byron, by creating a new environment conducive to interaction through expanded cafe settings, shops and other retail stores that are allowed to spill out on to a new pedestrian thoroughfare," he said.
Mr Ocean's vision is for the community to help in the final design of the esplanade and for local artists to build a sculptural walk along the beachfront.
He said he was inspired by watching the town slowly lose its identity over the past decade.
"Something needs to be done to transform Byron and draw people back," he said.
"Byron puts out the image that it is innovative and on the leading edge. It is time Byron walks its talk."
If nothing else, Mr Ocean said he hoped his plans would at least result in the community thinking about what needed to be done to protect the future of Byron Bay.
"My intention was to test the waters and to look at sparking interest in creating an over-riding vision for Byron," he said.