Becton project at Byron victim of global crisis
AFTER a fierce community battle, and seven years after it bought the Byron Bay Beach Resort, Becton has put on hold its controversial $51 million first stage tourist redevelopment of the prime beachfront site.
Becton Development Manager Matthew Rice, speaking from Melbourne, confirmed the company's decision, citing current world market conditions as the reason.
“It's extremely unfortunate, but we are now reassessing our options for the site,” he said.
“We need to see where we are going, but we are still taking inquiries from people interested in purchasing into the development.
“Even though the site is closed, we are maintaining the grounds. I only wish we had better news.”
The resort closed its doors to guests in August.
It was expected that the first stage of the tourist development would see 117 homes built.
The completed project was to include 354 holiday homes on the prime 88-hectare beachfront site, 2.2 kilometres north of the town.
Becton, based in Melbourne, bought the site from the troubled Club Med group in 2001 for $12.8 million. This represented a substantial loss for the French-based group, which had bought the site for $16 million in 1991.
Club Med had fought a long and bitter battle with the local community over its plans to redevelop the site, and Becton became embroiled in a similar fight after it acquired the land.
The 'Bugger off Becton' campaign culminated in a big rally at Main Beach, which was televised nationally on the Channel 9 Today show and featured Australian pop icons Billy Thorpe and Brian Cadd leading the singing of the song What About Me?
However, unlike Club Med, Becton won the support of the NSW Government, with Planning Minister Frank Sartor 'calling in' the development application in 2005.
In August last year, Mr Sartor approved the first stage of the development and said his decision would resolve a great deal of uncertainty around the proposal.
He said the conditions attached to the approval addressed the key concerns of opponents and ensured the project met the highest possible environmental and design standards.
The development can be used only for tourist or occasional accommodation and not for permanent residential purposes.