DEVELOPMENT: The property at 1897 Coolamon Scenic Drive.
DEVELOPMENT: The property at 1897 Coolamon Scenic Drive. Christian Morrow

Vegetarian campground subject of meaty debate

A DEVELOPMENT proposed for Coolamon Scenic Drive in Mullumbimby, which includes a 239 site vegetarian campground, has been the subject of controversy, with some in the community opposing its construction.

The developer, Mark Franklyn, described the project as a space intended to attract visionaries from all over the world to connect and inspire.

"It's a personal response to a traumatic world and my contribution to the wellness movement,” he said.

Known by a number of informal names including Sacred Waters Campground, the development application for the project is now open for comment on Byron Shire Council's website.

In the DA, which includes a 239 site vegetarian campground, 12 cabins, a day spa, manager's residence, kiosk and a 363sqm yoga and mediation space, developers anticipated little opposition to the project.

It reads: "...making sure that earth works are minimised, and the development blends into the site, then it is considered that the public response to the proposal will be a positive one.”

The facebook group Residents Against Mullum Tourist Resort, however, describe it as "the end of Mullum as we know it”.

Spokespeople for the group, who requested to remain unnamed, said their concerns included potential fire risks associated with camp fires at the site, which backs onto Mt Chincogan, increased traffic, noise from large events and the scale of the project.

"It's just not viable for potentially 270 cars coming in and out of every day because under legislation, each campsite, it can legally have 12 people on it, which means potentially he could have over 2500 people on it, which is nearly Mullum's whole population,” a spokesperson said.

Another said: "We have a primary production forest plantation here on our property, right above the area of the planned campground - so the bushfire risk is very scary.”

Neighbours said they were concerned about the potential for future parties and events, including doof parties.

Mr Franklyn was not shying away from the debate, saying there was no intention of holding doofs, and he identified there were some concerns about traffic.

"It's a great opportunity for us to supply a... cycleway and a footpath joining up into Mullumbimby which will vastly reduce the traffic to and from the site,” he said.

"Mullumbimby is sitting at the heart of the consciousness movement and this development, the vegetarian caravan park, is a purpose built development for the consciousness movement. It's not seeking to attract your grey nomad looking for a camping site.”

Mr Franklyn said : "This place is not open to casual camping”.

"This place is only for people on the inner journey. A place for reflection and contemplation. It is open to the seeker of the truth.”

Of the bushfire concerns he said the DA included a 50 or 60 page report addressing all the fire issues.

It seems the noise issue may also go two ways with the neighbours saying: "This is potentially a yoga centre. We're a working farm so we have machinery, we have fire arms, we have everything registered to our property. That's going to be a big issue as well. Because people are going to be objecting to the noise of farm machinery, fire arms - they're going to object to that”.

The neighbours also point out that the vegetarian campground sits between two cattle farms.

"They're not dairy, they're beef.”

Mr Franklyn said he has had a house in the area for 12 years and has been visiting for 35 years, he is a developer and is proud of the work he did on the redevelopment of the Mullumbimby Motel.

He said he was willing to try and address any issues brought to him.

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