A GROUP of design professionals has hit back at Byron Shire Council's planning chief Ray Darney for his comments justifying approval for a ridgeline property at St Helena.
The Design Advisory Panel of Northern Rivers (DAP) expressed concern about the future of the escarpment behind Byron Bay in a report by the Byron Shire News on a large residence, which it said caused a "scarring of the ridgeline and landscape".
The volunteer group of architects and designers suggested that council had not followed its own guidelines in giving approval to the house, the property of David Gyngell.
Mr Darney said the house was not readily viewed from a public road, its uppermost floor was positioned five metres below the crown of the road and the highest part of the roof set at 140m was the same height as the road.
Ian Oelrichs, DAP president, landscape architect and past president of the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects, said that contrary to Mr Darney's statement, the dwelling was visible from a number of public roads and public places, including the Pacific Highway.
He added that it was "particularly galling" that Mr Darney sought to excuse the development because it didn't sit proud of the St Helena ridgeline.
"Mr Darney knows only too well that Clause 31 of council's LEP does not use the matters he referred to as its yardstick," Mr Oelrichs said. "The clause refers to the carrying out of development 'on or near any ridgeline'. Clearly even from Mr Darney's comments the house is near a ridgeline - quite a significant ridgeline.
"Clause 31 very plainly says that no development can be carried out 'unless no alternative' location for the building is available'."
A much less visually exposed location was available - on the site of the existing dwelling on the same land, Mr Oelrichs said.
While "the horse had bolted" with respect to this house, DAP members were pleading for council to implement Clause 31 when considering any other applications on predominant ridgelines.
"If we treasure our green shire and value its landscape, even small changes to the ridge and the escarpment as a whole have a huge impact," Mr Oelrichs said.
"The high areas are a fundamental pillar of the area's landscape character. They should be kept intact and even reinforced."