Proposal for environmental zonings


To the west of Elements of Byron Resort is the old nine hole golf course, most recently used as the Byron Writers Festival site. Constructed in the 80s by the Byron Bay Beach Resort, the golf course operated for around thirty years. This 41 hectare parcel, owned by the same people who own and operate Elements of Byron Resort, sits across four existing freehold titles.

Over the past several years we have been reviewing various options for this land, working to understand both the constraints and opportunities it may offer.

We have already reached an agreement with Byron Shire Council that 75% of this land be protected in perpetuity through E2 Environmental Conservation and E3 Environmental Management zonings. This Planning Proposal seeks to zone the balance to E4 Environmental Living. Currently this portion is zoned 7f1 (Coastal Land Zone – 1988 LEP) and SP3 (Tourist Zone – 2014 LEP).

The section proposed for E4 Environmental Living zoning includes around ten hectares of cleared and mown grass with scattered coast banksias and broad-leaved paperbarks. There are also two man made waterbodies with some fringing vegetation. This zoning was identified as appropriate by Council and is consistent with the State Governments’ Practice Note for the application of environmental zones. Should this Planning Proposal proceed, a further application would later be required to divide the existing four lots into nine. The large (minimum one hectare) allotments would provide ample space for dwellings to be located in cleared grassed areas only.



The proposal also includes an adjustment to the zoning boundaries within the Elements of Byron Resort site and to the land immediately adjoining it where the beach access is. While the rest of the developed sections of Elements of Byron are zoned SP3 Tourist Zoning, this section is also “deferred matter” under the 2014 LEP and therefore remains zoned 7(f1) in accordance with the 1988 LEP. We propose that this parcel receive the SP3 zoning which fits its approved and existing uses.

In summary, land that is zoned for tourism uses would be zoned to enable low scale environmental living uses and land that is currently being used for approved tourism uses would be recognised and zoned accordingly.

The existing beach access would remain unimpeded.

Coastal hazard

Byron Shire Council’s Staff Report on the Planning Proposal states:

“The request for rezoning is supported by a detailed Coastal Hazard Assessment, which has been undertaken for the site by Royal Haskoning DHV, who are acknowledged coastal experts. The report maps 50 year (2070), 80 year (2100) and 100 year (2120) hazard lines for the site, based on contemporary “probabilistic” modelling. This modelling approach was agreed by staff of the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, and therefore forms a sound basis for the hazard assessment. The same modelling approach will be used to undertake the Shire-wide hazard assessment, soon to be commenced. The modelling shows that the contemporary 100 year hazard line is located approx. 135m seaward of the previously mapped 100 year hazard line (i.e. the existing 7(f1) zone boundary), demonstrating that the area within the site subject to coastal hazard is far smaller than previously thought. This result is consistent with the findings of a 2013 hazard review undertaken for Council by WBMBMT”.

Two historical coastal hazard assessments of this site are:

  • The 1978 Byron Bay – Hastings Point Erosion Study prepared by the then NSW Department of Public Works. This mapping is 42 years old. The findings of this study formed the basis of the hazard lines prepared in 1986 and included in Chapter 1 Part J of the Byron Development Control Plan 2010 (BDCP10).
  • The 2013 Byron Shire Coastline Hazards Assessment Update prepared by BMT WBM Pty Ltd for Byron Shire Council. This mapping identified that the immediate hazard line, minimum, best and maximum 2050 hazard lines and minimum, best and maximum 2100 hazard lines are significantly seaward of the lines previously identified in Part J of BDCP10. The findings of this study have not yet been included in any updated coastal hazard planning controls for Byron Shire.

Aerial photography between 2013 and 2019 has enabled more recent studies of shoreline change.

Last year we engaged Royal Haskoning DHV to undertake detailed probabilistic modelling for the land. Probabilistic modelling is widely accepted to be the best practice approach to understanding the extent of the future coastal hazard. These models utilise agreed parameters such as underlying recession, sea level rise and storm demand, which are each assigned a probability distribution function. In this way the uncertainty in the parameter values can be better assessed and understood. The parameter values in the distributions are randomly sampled one million times and combined repeatedly as a means of predicting the shoreline position (extent of coastal hazard) at particular times in the future.

The results of the probabilistic modelling are comparable to the results in the BMT WBM (2013) study for Council; Overall, the extent of the future coastal hazard is considered to be well understood.

Whilst adopting the latest coastal hazard science this Planning Proposal still recognises the long-standing “planned-retreat” principle of Byron Shire Council by also adopting the coastal hazard controls contained in Chapter E5.4 of BDCP14 (which are consistent with the controls of Part J of  BDCP10, in this particular case Precinct 3).

Should the erosion escarpment come within fifty metres of any building on land mapped as subject to the 100 year hazard, the development consent would cease and the building would need to be relocated on or off site by the owner.

This planning approach is consistent with that applied to other locations including Shirley Street, Alcorn Street (west) and Lawson Street (north). These areas are identified as subject to the 100 year hazard and are zoned R2 Low Density Residential, R3 Medium Density Residential and B2 Business Centre respectively under the 2014 LEP. The provisions of Part J DCP 2010 and E5.4 of DCP 2014 contain planning controls for buildings within these areas.


Video showing subject site progressively overlaid with E4 zone, potential nine allotment yield and coastal
hazard modelling

Environmental Living

For the old golf course land the E4 Environmental Living zone was identified as the most appropriate zoning as it provides the opportunity to acknowledge and preserve the land’s aesthetic values and unique coastal location while limiting the intensity of development. The E4 Environmental Living Zone objectives* are:

  • To provide for low impact residential development in areas with special ecological, scientific or aesthetic values.
  • To ensure that residential development does not have an adverse effect on those values.

* Mandated objectives State Government Standard Instrument.

The proposed Development Control Plan (DCP) to support the Planning Proposal would address issues such as:

  • Revegetation, environmental enhancement and repair
  • Coastal zone management
  • Access to the beach
  • Setbacks from artificial water bodies
  • Vehicular access

Further restrictions are also proposed to apply to any proposed allotments including:

  • A minimum lot size of 1 hectare.
  • No more than 9 allotments.
  • No subdivision of the torrens title lots for the purpose of creating a community title or strata subdivision.

This Planning Proposal is seeking only to reclassify or rezone this parcel of land. A further application would later be required to subdivide the existing four lots into nine, with the smallest lot being 1.2 hectares. Opportunites for community input would occur at that time as well as during the exhibition of the Planning Proposal.

The comprehensive studies behind this Planning Proposal include modelling coastal erosion, reviewing all previous flora and fauna studies with respect to demonstrating potential impacts on threatened species and establishing an in-principle agreement for a substantial component of the overall 90 hectare site to be zoned for environmental protection.

The Proposal resolves in perpetuity the land’s long-term protection and ultimate yield and brings the zoning in line with the new 2014 LEP classifications.


Will I still be able to access the beach?

Yes. The current access to the beach would continue unimpeded.

What about the Byron Writers Festival?

Subject to both discussions and approvals from the festival and Byron Shire Council we would be looking to rehome the event at an alternative suitable location within the overall property.

Why should this site be considered before the rest of the deferred coastal lands?

Coastal hazard modelling undertaken by both Byron Shire Council (2013) and Royal Haskoning DVH (2019) demonstrates that the coastal hazard erosion lines relating to the subject site have moved substantially seaward. The timing of this Planning Proposal now relates to:

  • The Shire-wide E-zone review process.
  • The timeframe to complete the Shire wide Coastal Management Program. This is considered unnecessarily prohibitive and follows on from failed attempts to implement a Coastal Zone Management Plan over this area.
  • The opportunity to settle the development potential and ecological protection of this land in perpetuity.

We believe that coastal hazard can be suitably and cautiously addressed within this proposal using existing planning control mechanisms (BDCP2014 Chapter E5.4) and preserving the long-standing planned retreat approach.

What about the sensitive habitat?

The land proposed for E4 Environmental Living is the old golf course cleared land containing two man-made waterbodies. Any houses would be restricted to this E4 area. Land with environmental significance would be preserved in perpetuity under tighter E2 or E3 zonings. Further commitments include:

  • The land use will not impact on the integrity or resilience of the biophysical, hydrological or ecological environment.
  • The proposal seeks to preserve the coastal environment values and has been proposed having regard for natural coastal processes.
  • The proposal does not provide for the removal of marine vegetation or native vegetation and will maintain and enhance the environmental integrity of the land.
  • Appropriate buffers would be provided to the artificial waterbodies and dunal/coastal vegetation. Greater setbacks are mandated from a bushfire perspective also.
  • The preparation of a Vegetation Management Plan to protect areas immediately adjoining the water bodies would be required in accordance with the associated DCP provisions.

What other options are there?

Over the past several years we have undertaken detailed modelling to assess the various permissible and potentially permissible uses for this site. Including:

  • An R5 large lot residential subdivision which could yield up to 70 allotments.
  • Utilising and extending the existing SP3 tourism zoning which would yield 113 three bedroom two storey villas with over 20,000m2 floor area and 240 parking spaces.

Our studies looked at the impacts upon both habitat and community. The E4 Environmental Living solution is by far the lowest impact outcome.

What impact on Bayshore Drive?

The proposal provides for a maximum of nine future lots (subject to a further approval). Traffic movements associated with this number of lots are not significant. It is considered that the intensity of development proposed is minor compared with other potential zoning options.

What about flooding?

A Flood Assessment undertaken by Royal Haskoning DHV reviews previous flood studies and the Council Flood Study Model. The flood modelling predicts the post development flood hazard and indicates that the single-dwelling building pads will not result in a noticeable change in hazard classification nor will they impact on flood behaviour on surrounding properties.

This is reflective of the slow-moving low-depth flood behaviour associated with this part of the catchment. Councils sea-level rise predictions have been incorporated into this modelling.

What about bushfire?

A report has been prepared by Bushfire Certifiers identifying appropriate asset protection zones (APZ’s) of between 10 and 21 metres wide. An asset protection zone is an area established and maintained to ensure that bushfire fuels are progressively reduced between the development and the bushfire hazard. The report states:

Compliant asset protection zones can be achieved for a future subdivision of the land to be rezoned and within the area identified.

Compliance with water supply, utilities and construction standards can be assessed at development application stage for the future subdivision and development application for future dwellings. In this regard, investigations undertaken for the purposes of this assessment show that there is a potential for full compliance with Planning for Bushfire Protection 2006 to be achieved.

Is this a done deal?

No. The Planning Proposal will be reported to Byron Shire Council. If they choose to, they will refer it to the Department of Planning, Industry & Environment for Gateway determination. If the Gateway determination is to proceed with the Planning Proposal it would be publicly exhibited and consultation with both community and relevant State Government authorities would occur. It is anticipated that the proposed DCP provisions would be exhibited with the Planning Proposal. The outcome of the exhibition and consultation process would then be reported back to Council for final determination.

If the Planning Proposal is gazetted (made lawful), the LEP mapping would be amended and the DCP provisions adopted by Council. We would then make a further application to subdivide the E4 land from four to nine lots. Further opportunities for community input and engagement would occur at that time.

How do I find out more?

Please call us on 0492 903158 or email us with any questions or just to talk about what is going on.