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 largely cleared site sits across four existing freehold titles covering 41 hectares.

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 some 29 hectares of the overall property (or 36%) be protected in perpetuity through E2 Environmental Conservation and E3 Environmental Management zonings.

Currently the subject site – these four titles – is covered by SP3 (Tourist Zone – 2014 LEP) and 7(f1) Coastal Land Zone – 1988 LEP) zonings.

This Planning Proposal seeks to reduce the SP3 (Tourist Zone) and 7(f1) (Coastal Land Zone) applying to the cleared part of the site and rezone to E4 Environmental Living and E2 Environmental Conservation. That part of the site proposed for E4 Environmental Living comprises 11.882 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. The balance of the subject site including all land within the 100 year hazard line would be zoned E2 Environmental Conservation and 7(f)1 Coastal Land Zone, providing the highest level of caution and environmental protection.

In consultation with Council staff, E4 Environmental Living was identified as the most appropriate zoning for that part of the land not identified as suitable for E2 Environmental Conservation Zoning.

A small area of the existing resort land (adjacent to the main facilities building and public beach access) presently zoned 7(f1) and not subject to coastal hazard is proposed to be zoned SP3. Overall a three hectare reduction in SP3 zoning is sought.

Should this Planning Proposal proceed, a further application would later be required to subdivide the existing four lots into nine. The large (minimum 1 hectare) allotments would provide ample space for dwellings to be located in cleared grassed areas only.

The existing public beach access would remain unimpeded.



Coastal hazard

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

The applicant has commissioned a detailed Coastal Hazards Assessment, which provides contemporary modelling to establish the likely location of the erosion escarpment in years 2050, 2070, 2100 and 2120.

The modelling approach, which includes allowance for sea-level rise, was agreed by staff of the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment Coastal Division, and forms a sound basis for the hazard assessment.

The modelling shows that the contemporary 100 year hazard line (i.e. for the year 2020) is located approx. 135m seaward of the previously mapped 100 year hazard line, which was used as the basis of the 7(f1) Coastal Land zoning and associated DCP Part J erosion precincts. The previous mapping was based on analysis from the 1970s.

The contemporary modelling demonstrates that the area within the site that is subject to coastal hazard is far smaller than previously understood.

Royal HaskoningDHV, the coastal management experts who undertook the recent study, also undertake work for Byron Shire Council and many other NSW coastal councils. Their methodology was peer reviewed and agreed to by both Council staff and staff from the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment Coastal Division. The results were also peer reviewed and accepted by all parties. There is no conjecture about the findings of the coastal hazard assessment.

The results are consistent with the Byron Shire Coastline Hazards Assessment Update prepared by BMT WBM for Byron Shire Council in 2013. The findings of this study have not yet been included in any updated coastal hazard planning controls for Byron Shire. Planning controls remain based on the 42 year old 1978 Byron Bay – Hastings Point Erosion Study. The 1986 DCP is also based on this 1978 work. 

Recent aerial photography also supports the findings of the 2013 and 2019 studies.

The 2020 Royal HaskoningDHV report uses probabilistic modelling, which is widely accepted to be the best practice approach to understanding future coastal hazard. The parameter values 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 study used a 2020 (100 year) horizon and a 1% exceedance factor. This is the most conservative position and has been adopted in the planning proposal.


2020-09-14_NBBR_AERIAL 28 - 07

Site aerials showing the proposed Environmental Living (E4) zone with coastal hazard lines overlaid.

Site aerials showing the proposed Environmental Living (E4) zone with coastal hazard lines overlaid.

Environmental Living

In consultation with Council staff, E4 Environmental Living was identified as the most appropriate zoning for that part of the land not identified as suitable for E2 Environmental Conservation Zoning. This land comprises approximately 11.882 hectares of old golf course land. 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 Development Control Plan (DCP) to support the Planning Proposal would address issues such as:

  • Revegetation, environmental enhancement and repair
  • Coastal zone management
  • Vehicular access
  • Bushfire hazard

This Planning Proposal is seeking only to rezone this parcel of land. A further application would later be required to subdivide the existing four lots into nine. Opportunities for community input would occur at that time.

The comprehensive studies behind this Planning Proposal include modelling coastal erosion, ecological assessment, flooding assessment, bushfire assessment, potential land contamination.

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 public 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.

“In the ten years that the current owners have owned the site, they have been strong supporters of the festival, and have kept us informed of their plans. Over the years, the festival location has changed a number of times within the Elements/North Byron Beach Resort land, and we have discussed with representatives of the owners over the last couple of years how the festival site could change if a rezoning were approved there. We are keen to continue holding the festival there and the land owners have always shown willingness to continue to support the festival’.

Adam van Kempen, Chair Byron Writers Festival

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

  • This site is different.

Coastal hazard modelling undertaken by both Byron Shire Council (2013) and Royal HaskoningDHV (2019) demonstrates that the coastal hazard erosion lines relating to the site have moved substantially seaward. In this regard the site is unlike other sites affected by coastal hazard.

  • The studies have been done.

The expert assessments to understand the future coastline hazards for the subject parcel of land have been completed. There has been no conjecture regarding the findings.

The timing of this Planning Proposal now relates to:

  • The Shire-wide E-zone review process.
  • The uncertain timeframe to complete the Shire wide Coastal Management Program. It is considered unreasonable to require this site to wait for the outcome of that process given the certainty of the coastal science and conservative approach applied to the proposed rezoning.
  • The opportunity to settle the development potential and ecological protection of this land in perpetuity.

What about the sensitive habitat? 

The land proposed for E4 Environmental Living is the old golf course cleared land. It is predominantly exotic grassland with scattered coast banksias and broad-leaved paperbarks. There are also two man made waterbodies with fringing vegetation. The proposed nine houses would be restricted to this E4 area.

Commitments include:

  • Minimal site disturbance, given the cleared nature of the subject land.
  • The provision of an appropriate buffer to the dunal vegetation via the application of an E2 Environmental Conservation Zone.
  • Appropriate Asset Protection Zones to address bushfire hazard.

What about flooding? 

A Flood Assessment undertaken by Royal HaskoningDHV 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.

Will I be able to see the eventual nine houses from the beach?


Will you be removing car parks from Bayshore Drive?

Some reconfiguration may be required to provide vehicular access to the lots however most of the existing car parking within the road reserve and constructed by the landowners will remain.

Did you consider alternatives?

Yes. Several alternative schemes were considered, including the application of the SP3 Tourist Zone, the application of a Large Lot Residential Zone and the application of a Rural Residential Lot Zone. The alternative schemes reviewed all resulted in significantly greater densities of development than the modest singe dwelling scheme proposed. The application of the SP3 Zone, for example, would result in sufficient area to effectively duplicate the existing resort.

What would be the 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 bushfire?

A report has been prepared by Bushfire Certifiers identifying appropriate asset protection zones (APZ’s). 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. 

What happens now?

The Planning Proposal was reported to Council’s Ordinary (Planning) Meeting of 17 September 2020. Council resolved to forward the Planning Proposal to the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment for Gateway Determination. Gateway Determination was issued on 8th March 2021 and the proposal will now be publicly exhibited by Council for 28 days.

If the Planning Proposal is gazetted (made lawful), the LEP mapping would be amended and DCP provisions adopted by Council. We would then make a further application to subdivide the 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 0283794044 or email us with any questions or just to talk about what is going on.