MEGA HOTEL: Proposed development for Byron Bay's old Woolworths site.
MEGA HOTEL: Proposed development for Byron Bay's old Woolworths site.

'Byron is not Bondi': $34m hotel proposal sparks concern

CONCERNED Byron Shire residents fear a development proposal for a five storey $34 million mega hotel in the town's CBD could open the floodgates for "inappropriate" developments.

Mercato on Byron developers are planning to build the mixed-use development comprising of a 146-room hotel, function centre, and retail space including shops, food and drink premises next door to the new shopping complex on Jonson Street.

According to a development application lodged to Byron Shire Council in 2018, works would include demolition of the existing old Woolworths building.

Submissions for the DA opened on May 30, and close tomorrow (June 26).

Tyagarah resident Piers Fisher-Pollard has urged the community to submit a last minute submission to the council opposing the proposal.

Named Essence of Byron, the three-storey development is topped with a private rooftop pool and bar and comes at an estimated cost of $33,930,000 (according to an amended DA). It was previously estimated at $39,897,000.

Mr Fisher-Pollard said the scale was "excessive" and "a gross over-development of the site".

"This is a big city development being put onto a small town scale streetscape and a village scale street network," he said.

"Byron Bay is internationally famed for its low-rise, non developed seaside village-style charm. It's managed to remain this way by saying no to big city style developments and international fast food chains and department stores.

"This style of development will further devalue the unique currency of Byron Bay's allure, rendering it as insignificant and overcrowded as many of the sites it draws its visitors from: The Gold Coast and Surfer's Paradise, crowded cities like Sydney and Melbourne, and an enormous number of overseas tourists.

"Byron Bay is not another Coffs Harbour. It's not Bondi Beach or some capital city's CBD."

Mr Fisher-Pollard listed further concerns as traffic, car parking, building height, floor space ratio, groundwater use, site contamination use and historical and future value of the town.

A variation request report submitted in the DA by Urbis on behalf of the applicant stated the proposed development was "appropriate to the locality in which it is located as it provides efficient use of existing infrastructure and supports surrounding local businesses with additional tourist accommodation".

"The hotel has been accommodated with a number of ancillary uses including a function centre and retail premises - shop and food and drink premises - to ensure the proposed development can sufficiently integrate with the surrounding character at the ground level, as well as add to the tourist and entertainment offer of the town," the report states.

"The proposed scale and form of the development is compatible with the adjacent Mercato on Byron Shopping Centre."

With the hefty price tag, the development will automatically come before the Northern Regional Planning Panel (formerly the Joint Regional Planning Panel) for determination.

The development aims to achieve zero emissions.

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