Planning Process Overview
Overview of Bruns Eco Village planning process and media activity over Dec 2017 - Jan 2018
There has been a lot of media coverage and discussion around Bruns Eco Village and the Saddle Road Planning Proposal over this past month. We would like to offer a sequence of events and an explanation of the planning proposal to help clarify any questions arising from the coverage.
Overview of affordable housing and the planning process
In October 2016 Council decided to hold a Byron Shire Housing Summit before adopting any Byron Shire Residential Strategy. The purpose of the Summit was to look at what could be done differently to improve the availability of housing in Byron Shire.
The Byron Shire Housing Summit was held in February 2017.
Bruns Eco Village was asked to present at the summit.
Information from the summit was compiled into an Housing Issues Plan which was reported to Council at their June 2017 meeting. Council’s Director of Sustainable Environment and Economy, Shannon Burt, recommended that this plan inform the Residential Land Strategy. She also reported support from a Council workshop for 'identification of and progression of potential pilot sites ahead of the Residential Land Strategy to rezone land that could be used to achieve affordable/diverse housing outcomes for the Shire'.
In June 2017, Council resolved (resolution 17-260) to (a) include Area 17 - Saddle Road Study Area (which was already identified for future housing in the Draft Preliminary Residential Housing Strategy), into the list of pilot sites to be considered for affordable housing and (b) invited all landowners in Byron Shire to submit Expressions of Interest for affordable housing proposals.
Council undertook the step of considering pilot projects before the final adoption of the Residential Strategy in light of the pressing Affordable Housing Crisis and the long and unknown timelines involved in completing an adopted residential strategy. This approach has the benefit of identifying any potentially suitable projects available on the ground and gave Council an opportunity to assess the willingness of landholders to address the affordable Housing crisis.
In terms of Saddle Road, two major landowners (other than the BEV site which was already committing 100% affordable housing through an alternative ownership model) decided to respond to Council's invitation to participate in affordable housing by committing to dedicate 20% of their developable land to Council for affordable housing immediately upon rezoning. While the extent of 20% of zoned land is yet to be determined by the various rezoning investigations, this offer will provide approximately 80 affordable house sites under Council’s ownership forever. When combined with BEVs 100% offer, Byron Council and the wider community has an offer on the table from Saddle Road landowners for more than 200 affordable houses. The rezoning planning process with its public consultation phases provides the opportunity for Council and the community to consider what is a unique offer.
In August 2017 Council held a consultation meeting for Area 17 residents. Most residents attended.
In September 2017 a planning proposal was submitted which took in 3 active land holders including Kelvin Daly (Bruns Eco Village) and 2 more adjoining land holders. The request equated to approximately 475 dwellings across 52-112 hectares of the overall 315 hectare study area.
In the event that rezoning is approved for this area the proposed Bruns Eco Village land will be sold exclusively to the future Co-op, or entity, for approximately a third of its value and the community entity, comprising the people who will live on BEV, will develop the Eco Village.
Press coverage overview (Dec 2017 - Jan 2018)
Dec 20th 2017 - Echo Local News
In this article the Byron Echo editor discusses the Saddle Road planning proposal and differentiates that council study area from the area proposed for residential use and the proposed 475 dwellings.
Dec 27th 2017 - Echo feature article
This article reports two complaints issued against the Byron mayor by the president of SRLAMPA (Saddle Ridge Local Area Management Planning Association), one of which ventures associations between the mayor and the Bruns Eco Village project.
In this article the Byron Echo editor reveals an Expression of Interest lodged by the president of SRLAMPA (Saddle Ridge Local Area Management Planning Association) who simultaneously asserts to be ‘absolutely opposed’ to rezoning Saddle Road.
Overview of communication with SRLAMPA (Saddle Ridge Local Area Management Planning Association) previously SRCAG (Saddle Ridge Community Action Group)
In early 2016, Kelvin Daly became aware of a residents group forming and presented an introduction to Bruns Eco Village and its distinguishing features from subdivision.
In August 2016 Bruns Eco Village invited SRCAG to a meeting where we could gather their questions and concerns related to the project. A meeting took place that month between members of the Bruns Eco Village Working Group and members of the SRCAG group.
What followed that meeting was an email exchange over August & September 2016 where both sides attempted to organise another meeting. SRCAG requested for very specific criteria to be met in order to meet, including videoing the meeting. 8 specific planning-related questions were put to the BEV group which we were unable to respond to due to the pre-planning stage of the project. Due to the nature of the questions and information sought and our limited ability to answer them, we instead suggested a meeting after the public release of the Draft Residential Strategy when an informed discussion could happen. SRCAG continued with their intended meeting and opened it to the public.
In December 2017 Matthew O'Reilly (Cleva), President of SRLAMPA issued a media release entitled ‘invitation to conduct a public debate between proponents of rezoning the Saddle Road precinct and those opposed’. In this media release the representative stated that “we really don't care about BEV or their ‘model’. All we care about is the proposed rezoning of the Saddle Road precinct without doing due diligence.” He then went on to propose holding “a public debate with multiple members of the Bruns Eco Village leadership team against myself and other Saddle Road community members”.
Bruns Eco Village working group responded to this invitation by offering to host a circle where everyone with an interest in the planning proposal could talk through their concerns and ask clarifying questions. We find the debate structure outdated and problematic. It assumes an antagonistic for-and-against, and is necessarily exclusive. However SRLAMPA are firm in their opposition to our suggested structure and that is their right.
It is important to note that the Byron Shire Council already has a public consultation strategy that balances the needs of proponent and opponents, and we expect this consultation process to run for a long time. We have full confidence in the Byron Shire Council’s ability to manage this process and do not feel it would be proper to establish parallel processes (given the perception of undue influence), and look forward to working with SRLAMPA and the entire community to find the best outcome through this process.