Last-ditch Becton talks stall

By MEGAN KINNINMENT

IT IS a brave developer who takes on The Greens council in Byron Bay.

"Brave or stupid," Melbourne developer and Becton owner Hamish Macdonald lamented yesterday, after emerging from failed talks with the council and conservationists over Becton's plans to develop the former Club Med resort site at Belongil Beach.

Negotiations broke down yesterday between Byron Shire mayor Jan Barham, conservationist Dailan Pugh and Mr Macdonald, over Becton's $100million plan to subdivide and build a holiday home village on the same site as the controversial Club Med resort.

A decade ago, the Byron Bay community fought off Club Med's plans to build a large resort, and last year the same battle began against Becton.

After two days of heated debate, Becton yesterday agreed to slash the number of homes they planned on building from 379 down to 113, yet Cr Barham and Mr Pugh emerged disappointed the developer would not agree to scale back the project even further.

"Becton's still too big," Cr Barham declared.

"The negotiations have stalled unless Becton says they are willing to move from that position," she said.

Cr Barham then announced she would go ahead with plans to restrict the amount of allowable development on the land at Belongil, by preparing a sitespecific development control plan (DCP).

"I will be bringing this up at the next council meeting as a matter of urgency," she said.

Dailan Pugh said he was frustrated by the mediation process, although he emerged happy that the council was finally going to move on changing the DCP.

"That will give the community the chance to set out what they want," Mr Pugh said.

"What Becton are proposing is the same number of bedrooms as Club Med's proposal, except they will be in larger houses.

"We've failed to resolve the basic issue, that they are trying to do a de facto residential development in a 2t (tourism) zoning."

As he prepared to return to Melbourne, Mr Macdonald defended Becton's right to build holiday-homes.

"It's zoned for tourism and we went in and proposed less than half the number of our previous plan...at the end of the day there's fundamental differences," he said.

"I don't know (where this leaves us)."

Cr Barham had a suggestion.

"I asked (Mr Macdonald) to consider selling the site," she said.

"I'd like to think we could attract developers who are in- terested in the community not just the dollar sign."



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