Byron seeks community comments

BYRON Shire Council is seeking community input on its new, draft plan to invest development contributions across the Shire.

Council's new section 94 plan will go on public display today for 28 days and the council's executive manager of Environment and Planning, Ray Darney, said the it gave the community a chance to have their say on using development contributions.

"Section 94 contributions are levied on new developments because the growth from new homes and commercial activities means extra community facilities will need to be provided by council," he said.

"State Government laws require us to come up with a plan so that the money raised from these new developments is spent in a sustainable way.

"We expect Byron Shire's population to grow by about a third during the next 25 years. This kind of population growth requires us to have plans in place to make sure the right mix of community facilities and infrastructure is in place."

Mr Darney encouraged the community to have their say on spending development contributions.

"Part of coming up with a new plan is about working with the community on the best way to enhance the Byron Shire through these contributions," he said.

"For that reason, it is important the community knows that there are State Government rules about how section 94 contributions can be spent.

"First, it isn't possible to spend every dollar on maintaining roads. This is because population growth creates demand for lots of services, not just roads. The contributions need to be spent across all areas, including things like parks and cycle ways.

"Second, money levied on developments in the Byron Bay area, which under the new plan includes Suffolk Park and Ewingsdale, cannot be spent in Brunswick Heads, and vice versa. The same applies for the every catchment area in the Shire.

"Third, there are developments that don't attract section 94 contributions, including some secondary dwellings, because of Council's commitment to doing what it can to improve housing affordability."

Mr Darney said the draft plan prioritised various projects, estimated their time for completion, and set out the contribution to be made by Council and developers.

"We appreciate the draft plan is very detailed, given the requirements set down for these plans by the State Government," he said.

"However, for interested residents, sections four to seven of the plan list priorities for particular bike ways, community facilities, open space and recreation facilities, and roads.

"We are keen for the community's input on these priorities during the public comment period, after which Council staff will look at the comments and then present a report to Councillors."

The draft development contributions plan will be on public display until June 15.

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