It was a full house as the Joint Regional Planning Panel revealed its decision on the controversial West Byron development.
It was a full house as the Joint Regional Planning Panel revealed its decision on the controversial West Byron development.

EXPLAINED: The final decision on $25m development

A $25 MILLION development at West Byron for a 282-lot subdivision has been rejected by the Northern Joint Regional Planning Panel after it was deemed inappropriate for the location.

Villa World's plan for a controversial development near Ewingsdale Rd was unanimously rejected by members of the NJRPP after a lengthy meeting in Byron Bay yesterday afternoon.

It was the second DA for West Byron to be refused by the panel, as a $40 million development put forward by West Byron Landowners Group was rejected earlier this year.

Numerous speakers pleaded with the Northern Joint Regional Planning Panel on many grounds, including they "did not want a 'Gold Coast'" in Byron Bay for fears it would be a "standard suburban disaster".

Villa World's proposed development seeks approval to turn nine existing lots into a subdivision of 282 residential lots and other associated works at 342 Ewingsdale Road.

The proposal was refused on 10 grounds including adverse impacts to surrounding properties, a significant visual impact and undesirable impact at the street scape that is inconsistent with the northern entrance to Byron Bay, the development is likely to have adverse impacts on threatened species and ecosystems, no adequate discharge of storm water and is not considered in the public's interest.

NJRPP chairman Garry West said there were several unresolved issues.

"I'm not satisfied the stormwater discharge has been satisfactorily resolved, and I'm not satisfied the cumulative impacts on Ewingsdale Rd have been resolved," Mr West said.

He said it was an "over development and the constraints and adverse impacts are not suitable for this site".

"Another issue is this is in an area which is to coordinate with another development in West Byron...unfortunately the other applicant took the matter to the Land and Environment Court.

"My recommendation is you would be better off with drawing and resubmitting or accept refusal."

The issues Byron Shire Council recommended refusal to the NJRPP on numerous grounds, including: staging, subdivision design, layout and orientation, stormwater management, traffic planning, biodiversity and vegetation management and management of site hazards and constraints (i.e., groundwater, bushfire).

Environmental concerns

During the meeting a spokesman for Byron Shire Council said there were some positive aspects of the proposal such as re-vegetation, the residential subdivision was consistent with the current zoning of the land and the applicant had made adjustments so it had "lighter impacts".

But, he said the proposal was inconsistent with councils staging plan and that there was "no proof works will be conducted in an orderly fashion".

They also noted the lack of approval by NSW RFS.

Secretary director of Belongil Catchment Drainage, Tom Vidal, said he thought the applicants the development would "not work in wet weather conditions".

"Belongil basin is at capacity and is extremely sensitive. If not managed properly the whole property will flood, it will turn into a mosquito swamp...town will flood regularly, and this will be long before we can blame rising sea levels," he said.

Affordable housing

Acting mayor Michael Lyon said the development wasn't needed as council was "building enough houses for this community".

"We don't need more for the growth rate of this community," Cr Lyon said.

"It's the way housing is used that needs to change and when that's done, we will be taking care of our affordability and supply issues.

"These houses will end up on Airbnb anyway."

'The Harvest Estate will be a benefit to the community': Applicants

During his presentation applicant Peter Johnson said the site has been a potential urban land release area for the past 25 years.

"We've developed Harvest estate completely in accordance with zoning of the land," Mr Johnson said.

"Developer contributions will be $11 million to council, who can spend the money where they see fit."

He said the applicants had read all submissions made to council.

"The traffic generation of the development will generate 2564 vehicles per day which is approximately a 5 per cent increase to the peak flows of the existing traffic on Ewingsdale Rd when it's fully developed, which is years away."

Mr Johnson said the development area will be filled to the Flood Planning Level and was proposed to be filled in six stages over several years.

"The fill is required on the site no matter who develops it," he said.

"There won't be a six-metre-high noise buffer wall. We propose a slightly less-high fence - a two to 2.6-metre-high fence with a vegetative buffer in front which could be decorated with art, chosen by the community."

He said concessions made to date included reduced footprint, removal of infrastructure and filling from Environmental Zoned land, relocation of Regional Sewer Pump Station to Industrial land, no cats and dogs covenant, land dedication to Council to construct Bayshore Drive Roundabout, and a reduced building height for proposed medium density lots.

"Only three council meetings with the applicant have occurred since the DA was lodged.

"We think the council's grounds of refusal are incorrect, and do not reflect the proposal."