Significant amendments were made to the proposed Harvest Estate in West Byron before it was approved through a Land and Environment Court process.
Significant amendments were made to the proposed Harvest Estate in West Byron before it was approved through a Land and Environment Court process.

REVEALED: How negotiations changed West Byron development

A MAJOR development planned for west of Byron Bay has been approved, with a suite of changes.

The residential development, known as Harvest Estate, was subject to a Land and Environment Court appeal after it was rejected by the Northern Regional Planning Panel in April, 2019.

The proposal was subject to a conciliation process between the applicant and Byron Shire Council and this led to a judgment being handed down on Tuesday.

Significant amendments were made to the proposed Harvest Estate in West Byron before it was approved through a Land and Environment Court process.
Significant amendments were made to the proposed Harvest Estate in West Byron before it was approved through a Land and Environment Court process.

Reduced scale

At the time it was considered by the planning panel last year, the DA sought approval to turn nine existing lots into 290 new lots at 342 Ewingsdale Rd and 22A and 22B Melaleuca Drive.

But the approval that was confirmed before the LEC on Tuesday involved the creation of just 149 residential lots.

This will comprise 145 smaller residential lots and four "large lifestyle lots", seven "green infrastructure lots" and public reserves.

The changes have amounted to a 48 per cent drop in development yield and 40 per cent less fill than previously indicated.

There will be 50 per cent more open space, a community centre and vegetable garden, an increase in bicycle and walking tracks and a proposed nature trail.

The changes will also mean a 49 per cent reduction in vegetation clearing, according to a Schedule of Changes lodged during the court case.

About 2.88 hectares of native vegetation is to be "directly impacted" by the development.

An acoustic fence along Ewingsdale Rd was removed from plans and a 30-metre-wide landscape buffer will instead be used to ensure the development is not visible from the main road into Byron Bay.

The entire urban precinct will be within low density residential zoning.

Significant amendments were made to the proposed Harvest Estate in West Byron before it was approved through a Land and Environment Court process.
Significant amendments were made to the proposed Harvest Estate in West Byron before it was approved through a Land and Environment Court process.

The case

Queensland developer Villa World confirmed in June this year it had sold its interests in the proposal to NSPT Pty Ltd.

After this, the developer became part of AVID Property Group and although Villa World Byron Pty Ltd remained the applicant on the court proceedings, the original developer had no further involvement.

In handing down his judgment on Tuesday, Commissioner Michael​ Chilcott said the parties had advised of a range of agreements, including that environmental management and protection works - vital to protect the vulnerable wallum froglet and wallum sedge-frog - would occur on the large lifestyle lots (Lots 146 to 149).

Commissioner Chilcott said the court had arranged a conciliation conference between the parties in November, following an earlier conference in August.

"At the conciliation conference on 6, 10 and 19 November 2020, the parties reached agreement as to the terms of a decision in the proceedings that would be acceptable to the parties," he said.

 

Previous plans related to the Harvest Estate proposal.
Previous plans related to the Harvest Estate proposal.

"This decision involved the court upholding the appeal and granting consent to the applicant's development application, subject to conditions."

Mr Chilcott said he must dispose of the proceedings in line with the agreement reached at conciliation, which was "a decision that the court could have made in the proper exercise of its functions".

The developer was ordered to pay Byron Shire Council's costs which were "thrown away" by virtue of its amended DA, totalling $40,000. It has 28 days to pay these costs.

The now-approved development is separate to an adjacent proposal brought by Site R & D; this matter remains before the court.

The council and the developer's legal representative have been approached for comment.



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