State Government approves West Byron development rezoning

A REZONING application for the controversial West Byron housing development has been approved by the State Government.

The rezoning was the major hurdle for the developers of the West Byron Project, among them millionaire Queensland property developer Steve Agnew who is behind another controversial development at Great Keppel Island.

In a statement announcing the rezoning approval, an unnamed spokesperson from the Planning and Environment Department describes the approval as a "good outcome for Byron Bay's unique natural environment" and that it followed "detailed consultation with the community and Byron Shire Council".

The spokesperson said the housing development planned for the site would create up to 800 jobs during construction and would improve housing affordability.

"The approval not only means more work for local tradies, but greater choice in terms of types and styles of housing available in the region," the spokesperson said.

Elements of the community have been vocal in their opposition to the project, raising a series of environmental issues ranging from acid sulphate soils to  area's resident koala population to the integrity of Belongil Creek. There have also been concerns raised about the pressure the development would put on Byron Bay's existing infrastructure and, in particular, its chronically clogged road network.

An online petition opposing the development currently has more than 65,000 signatures on it - more than twice the population of the entire Byron Shire and more than seven times the population of Byron Bay.

Environmental issues

The petition singles out a perceived threat to koalas from the development, but the unnamed department spokesperson said any koalas in the area were safe.

"About 40 per cent of the site is now reserved for environmental management and conservation to protect and rehabilitate vegetation and establish buffer zones to Belongil Creek and wetlands," the spokesperson said.

A plan of the West Byron Project being proposed by a consortium for 108 hectares of land to the south of Ewingsdale Road, on the outskirts of Byron Bay.
A plan of the West Byron Project being proposed by a consortium for 108 hectares of land to the south of Ewingsdale Road, on the outskirts of Byron Bay.

"This was increased from 35 percent in a previous proposal which identified an area in the north east of the site for residential development. In addition, a drainage reserve has been redesigned to protect native vegetation and koala habitat."

"Koalas will continue to be protected because developers must submit an effective koala management plan before any development application for koala habitat land will be determined.

"Detailed plans will also be required to manage any potential impacts of disturbing acid sulphate soils."

Traffic

The spokesperson said a $10.5m investment in the Byron Bay bypass would "make a significant dent in local traffic congestion".

That comment comes despite general acknowledgement the bypass, which would duplicate Jonson Street along Butler Street between Mitre 10 and the Shirley Street roundabout, would not ease traffic congestion on Ewingsdale Road, including from Ballina MP Don Page who said the bypass "will not be a panacea for Byron Bay's traffic problems".

"The new road will make it easier for the town's current and future residents to get to shops, cafes, work, school and local services," the department spokesperson was quoted saying in today's announcement. 

"Importantly, through the rezoning approval, we're making the developer pay almost $8 million to the community for local road upgrades."

And if you can't drive into town - or find a park when you get there - you can just walk or cycle in.

""People living in the new homes will live within walking or cycling distance of the town centre," the spokesperson said.

 

The spokesperson said constructing the development would create up to 800 jobs.

"The approval not only means more work for local tradies, but greater choice in terms of types and styles of housing available in the region."



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