The route of Byron Bay's new CBD bypass.
The route of Byron Bay's new CBD bypass. Rebecca Lollback

Decision made on Byron Bay town centre bypass appeal

BYRON Shire Council has successfully defended the Byron Bay town centre bypass in the Land and Environment Court.

The judgement was handed down today and the council's legal services coordinator, Ralph James, said the appeal to stop the construction works going ahead, has been dismissed.

"Plus, the conditions of consent have not been altered, including Council's mitigation measures for acoustic treatment," he said.

In August 2016, Byron Shire Council was served with a Land and Environment Court application to overturn the JRPP approval of the Byron Bay town centre bypass Development Application.

Instigated by the Butler Street Community Network Incorporated, the court action sought to stop the construction of the town centre bypass along Butler Street.

Mr James said the Butler Street Community Network's expressed intention was to have the bypass constructed on the parallel rail corridor and it therefore challenged the development approval.

"However, as far back as 1988 the Butler Street route was identified within the Byron Local Environmental Plan as the location of the town centre bypass.

"Whilst considering various bypass routes over the years, as is normal Council planning practices, in 2014 the Butler Street alignment became the preferred route.

"Key to the decision was the fact that the Butler Street alignment comprises the existing road network, road reserve and Council owned land. This means that Council will be the owner and custodian of this land in perpetuity," Mr James said.

Whilst the project has been delayed by at least a year, the council's cost to defend the case was about $450,000.

General Manager Ken Gainger said it was disappointing that Council had no choice but to defend the court action. "For a shire of our size that's significant money that could have been spent elsewhere," he said.

"The town centre bypass is a vital piece of road infrastructure needed to ease current traffic congestion.

"Whilst it won't solve all the traffic problems facing the popular town, the bypass will be of particular importance to locals, business and tradespeople who need to cross from one side of town to the other.

"And as the numbers of visitors who come into Byron continues to grow, our road network will become even more chaotic if we do not start to create and build solutions.

"Our community has told us through the Byron Bay Town Centre Masterplan that progressively making the town centre more pedestrian friendly is a priority and we need to keep the cars on the periphery.

"Alleviating some of the traffic pressure and opening up the rail corridor as a green space with pedestrian access from the Butler Street Reserve are key components to achieving this community supported goal.

"While we appreciate that some Butler Street residents do not want the road to be upgraded, their primary concerns will be alleviated by the implementation of the consent conditions approved by the court.

"Butler Street is the designated route which is now approved by the Land and Environment Court decision, is supported with substantial state government funding and has the Roads and Maritime Service on-board as the appointed construction authority," Mr Gainger said.

The Byron Bay town centre bypass project will now continue to progress.

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