Japanese tourists Yoshino Tokuda and Takashi Kimura have camped at Belongil Fields several times and don’t want to lose their camping spot to a housing development.
Japanese tourists Yoshino Tokuda and Takashi Kimura have camped at Belongil Fields several times and don’t want to lose their camping spot to a housing development.

Byron 'ruined' by development

BYRON councillors could today pave the way for a huge housing development at west Byron Bay that will ruin the town’s character, a local environmentalist says.

Dailan Pugh claims up to 1000 houses and a shopping centre may be built at Belongil Fields and the vacant lands surrounding it if council pushes ahead with rezoning the areas residential at today’s council meeting.

The council is under pressure from State Planning Minster Kristina Keneally to speed up the rezoning process due to the housing affordability crisis and lack of available land in the Byron Shire.

Mr Pugh says such a large-scale development on the main road leading to Byron Bay would have disastrous effects on the town’s ambience, exacerbate traffic problems and create an ugly entrance to the town that would turn tourists away.

“This will change the nature and perception of Byron Bay and turn us into just another over-developed sprawling coastal metropolis,” he said.

The low-lying land is also at risk of being swamped due to rising sea levels, according to Mr Pugh.

“Council has done a shoddy flood assessment of the Belongil catchment, where they have reduced the flood threat for these lands by rejecting previous assessments of cyclonic storm surges and wave setups of 2.6m and replacing them with storm surges of 1.35m for east coast lows around Sydney.

This alone reduces flood levels at West Byron by over a metre, and of course allows a lot more development,” he said.

He said the council was also ignoring previous traffic studies and the 2005 Local Environmental Study which recommended not proceeding with development of this area until a comprehensive traffic solution has been implemented.

Mr Pugh said local residents had been ‘frozen out’ of any consultation process.

“Council knows what is best for us, so they are not going to give us a say until their LEPs are exhibited for final approval, he said. “By then it will be too late. After (today) development of this area will be a done deal.


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