North Byron Parklands is seeking approval for a redevelopment which would allow it to host up to 50,000 people at Splendour In The Grass, but some locals are concerned about potential negative effects on the area, while the local council feels it has been left out of the decision-making process.
The site’s current operators are seeking permission to hold outdoor events for up to 20 days a year, including 50,000 people at Splendour In The Grass and 35,000 at the Byron leg of Falls Festival.
There are also plans to construct a new administration building and a ‘golden view’ bar, with long-term plans for a conference centre and accommodation buildings.
The plans are currently being assessed by the Department Of Planning And Environment as a ‘state significant development’, but Byron Shire Council Mayor Simon Richardson has called the process “undemocratic and disrespectful”.
“Festivals bring creative, cultural and economic benefits for our shire but they are also a two-edged sword, impacting on our locals by way of traffic, waste and noise. These issues can be overcome but they are nonetheless real and important for residents,” he told Fairfax Media.
”I strenuously oppose the circumvention of local government decision-making because there is little consideration for the local community and to take the power to make decisions on important development applications is undemocratic and disrespectful.”
Mat Morris, the General Manager of North Byron Parklands, has said that if the site’s redevelopment proposal is rejected, he believes “NSW will lose two internationally renowned Australian festivals to Queensland”.
“Hundreds of jobs and more than $100 million in economic benefits will leave a region with high youth unemployment and a range of businesses dependant on these events,” he told Fairfax.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Byron Shire Council said it would be making a submission to the Planning Department which would highlight issues concerning locals, including noise, traffic, security, evacuation procedures and impacts on ecology.
North Byron Parklands’ request for permission to redevelop comes after a successful five-year trial period, as well as a 20-month extension which allowed it to secure Splendour In The Grass and Falls Festival through 2018 and 2019.
Last year, the Department Of Planning & Environment said there were “no major non-compliances” and “very few complaints from the local community” during the 2017 edition of Splendour In The Grass.
The public exhibition period for North Byron Parklands’ planned redevelopment ends on 16th February. To learn more about the proposed development and to have your say, head to the North Byron Parklands website.