State govt intervenes in Byron housing site

THE STATE government has intervened in the planning process for a proposed major housing development at Byron Bay, with NSW Minister for Planning Kristina Keneally declaring the land a potential state-significant site, meaning the land may have a wider social economic significance for the community.

Owners of the parcel of land at West Byron/Belongil Fields were frustrated by council delays in rezoning the area for residential redevelopment, and took the proposal to the Department of Planning earlier this year.

Ms Keneally will now investigate the use of the site for the proposed 1000-plus housing development.

The planning minister has been putting pressure on the council to speed up the rezoning of the 108ha site due to the housing affordability crisis and lack of available land in Byron Bay.

But there was reluctance from council to move forward because of traffic, flooding and environmental concerns, as well as the site’s close proximity to the chicken processing factory, Sunnybrand.

The land is located on the busy and often congested Ewingsdale Road, which is the only entrance to the town from the highway and is frequently jammed.

Byron Shire mayor Jan Barham said the site had ‘significant constraints’ and the decision to take the process out of the council’s hands was worrying for the community.

She said traffic was a major concern, and the RTA had previously indicated it was opposed to rezoning the land for this reason.

The council has been seeking to address congestion with its ‘mini-bypass’ project, but has been unable to get state government approval for the second rail crossing necessary for the plan.

The mayor said new housing may not be the only answer.

“We’ve seen a lot of housing taken up by holiday lets and that’s something we’ve been trying to address.”

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