An aerial view of The Belongil Creek area of Byron Bay.
An aerial view of The Belongil Creek area of Byron Bay.

Illegal waterfront home works the centre of court dispute

CONFLICTING Land and Environment Court motions between Byron Shire Council and a landholder will go to mediation.

Master Alchemy Pty Ltd is the owner of a Childe St, Byron Bay property where a timber deck, retaining wall and stairs were built on the bank of Belongil Creek without approval between October and December 2017.

The works extended beyond the privately-owned land, across Crown land and into the Belongil Creek Special Uses Zone.

In ongoing civil proceedings, Master Alchemy has argued the works have “a minimal and predominantly positive or otherwise remedial environmental impact” and demolition would have “more adverse environmental outcomes than their preservation and regularisation”.

But the council has contended the works are not permissible under Marine Estate Management legislation and that they have caused “unacceptable environmental impacts”, including interference with the bank of the Belongil Creek which “has had or will have the effect of altering drainage patterns, floodwaters, and has impacted upon, and will continue to impact upon, (its) habitats”.

Master Alchemy lodged a Building Information Certificate (BIC) application with the council and a Domestic Waterfront Licence application on March 8 last year, some 15 months after the works were completed.

The council issued orders seeking demolition and restoration of the land last April and the following month, the company lodged Class 1 appeals against both orders.

The council formally refused the BIC and when Master Alchemy asked Crown Lands for owner’s consent, this was also refused.

The company later told the council it would remove works not on the private land from the BIC application and the council revoked its demolition orders last December.

The works also resulted in criminal convictions for the company and the builder it employed in February.

When the matters were before the Land and Environment Court in February Justice Rachel Pepper refused the company’s application to have a stay placed upon the council’s Class 4 enforcement claim until the appeals were dealt with.

They returned to court on Monday and mediation, including a site visit, was scheduled for two days in September.