Four storey development comprising of commercial premises, cafes, child care centre, shop top housing, serviced apartments, and car parking awaiting approval.
Four storey development comprising of commercial premises, cafes, child care centre, shop top housing, serviced apartments, and car parking awaiting approval.

Why $21 million development was 'not in the public interest'

A PROPOSED $21 million mixed-use development in the heart of Byron Bay has been refused by the Joint Regional Planning Panel at a meeting this week.

The four storey development comprising of commercial premises, cafes, child care centre, shop top housing, serviced apartments, and car parking was proposed to be built at the corner of Jonson and Browning St.

The building plans measured it to stand at a height of 11.5 metres, which attracted criticism from residents and community groups.

During the meeting many came forward to voice their concerns, which comprised of: excessive height and bulk of the development, traffic concerns, overshadowing and loss of privacy to surrounding residents and environmental concerns.

Residents said they were concerned if the development were approved it would "open the floodgates" for taller buildings to be approved in the future.

Byron Shire mayor Simon Richardson said the "low rise unique town centre is a billion dollar asset".

"We are known and loved for it," Cr Richardson said.

"(The development) does not seek the height increases for environmental reasons or community benefits, but to put in more apartments which is why it should be refused."

Matthew O'Reilly said the development would have "destroyed the character of the town by its placement on the outer edge on town" therefore "setting Byron Bay up for taller buildings in the future".

"Byron loves its low level development and its part of the attraction to people visiting and living here," he said.

Founding member of Byron Residents' Group Cate Coorey said the "height, bulk and scale" were a first for Jonson St.

Ms Coorey said council had received more than 85 emails this week in response to a Facebook post made by the group.

"This one development would see an increase of 8.7 per cent of traffic... it would be coming out of what is a currently a very small lane," she said.

Previously $20 million, the Planning Panels determine development applications with a capital investment value more than $30 million, but this DA was lodged before the changes.

Architect and lead designer of the project Jade Myers said the development recognised "a real need for accommodation and housing" in the township.

"It's a high quality building, offers a benchmark of urban and coastal living - it's urban forward thinking," Mr Myers said.

The JRPP panel rejected the DA believing it was "not in the public's interest".

Independent chair Garry West said he recognised the concerns of loss of privacy and traffic supply.

He said an approval would have meant "putting a development there that was well ahead of any consideration from council as to what (Byron's) future character was."

Mr West said a "full community process could help guide council" on the DA and the panel did not wish to "disregard that process".

"The project could come back in the future when the expectations of the council are resolved in that area or for a nine metre height.

"11.5 metres, over the nine, I think is difficult to accept at this stage."

Panelist Pamela Westing said she believed the council and community had the right to go through a consultation process, so council could take into account community feedback.



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