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

West Byron development inquiry 'annulled' by state approval

AN ANTI-CORRUPTION inquiry into a major West Byron housing development's approval is "effectively annulled" after the State Government gave it the green light.

Byron Shire Council has turned down proposals to build hundreds of new homes in the town's west for years.

The New South Wales Government took over the reins, declared the 108ha site an area of "state significance" and approved the development, which could include as many as 1100 dwellings.

Greens MP and former Byron councillor Jan Barham referred the approval process to the Independent Commission Against Corruption but said any hope of an investigation now seemed unlikely.

"The ICAC referral has been effectively annulled by the fact the State Government has approved the development," she said.

People are angry. The government is keeping the developers happy, but not the community that has to deal with the long-term consequences

- Greens MP and former Byron Mayor Jan Barham

"It's a very poor outcome from 2009 when the then-government defined West Byron as a major development of state significance.

"Byron Council had not approved it to be moved ahead for rezoning. They looked at it for 20 years and deemed it unsuitable for urban development."

Ms Barham said the community was outraged three decades of hard work to protect Byron's lifestyle and environment had been in vain.

"People are angry. The government is keeping the developers happy, but not the community that has to deal with the long-term consequences," she said.

"What often happens in these circumstances is the developer just on-sells as soon as they get an approval.

"Because they're in it for the money, not a real commitment to jobs and the community."

More than 65,000 people signed an online petition to have the Ewingsdale Rd development turned down.

Dozens of objectors commented on the environmental impact statement, which the State Government released before its approval.

"The road from the highway into Byron is already completely blocked all summer; it can take up to half an hour to travel the 3km into town during the holidays," Byron resident Maggie Clark wrote.

"The situation is already going to be exacerbated by the new development on Bay Shore Dr, the new sports centre and the new hospital.

"Now cannot be the time to make a decision on adding such a large new development into the mix when we don't know how all these other developments will affect the road congestion."

-APN NEWSDESK



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