Byron Bay Town Centre – 26th Feb 2015

Last night I made a presentation to Byron United (The Byron Bay Chamber of Commerce), with some ideas that could be considered in the Town Centre Masterplan, which is currently being prepared by McGregor Coxall (with the help of several other consultants). The presentation was aimed at generating some discussion amongst members of the local business community.

A Daily Market

The first concept I discussed was a daily market for small traders – in place of, or to complement existing weekly and monthly markets. The site suggested for this market is the Lawson St north carpark – right near the beach in the centre of town. The key reasons for proposing this idea are:

  • To foster economic development for small producers and innovative small businesses that aligns with the Byron workforce (largely sole traders and small businesses)
  • Because Byron residents and tourists alike support the existing weekly + monthly markets and both have the potential to embrace a daily market
  • A daily market has the potential to promote a more competitive (ie a real market) environment
  • Many Byron people are opposed to the dominance of the big supermarkets and national chain store retailers
  • Many businesses in Byron don’t need spaces anywhere near as big as the spaces currently available and a market would contain mostly small stalls (eg 10 square metres)
  • The site is ideally positioned for very high pedestrian traffic (adjacent to the Lawson St crossing) also with access through to Jonson St through the existing mall aligned with Bay Lane
  • The site is an existing Council asset classified as ‘Community Land’
  • The potential rental income stream is significant (based on a case study of the Cairns Night Markets
  • Byron Bay could certainly do with a ‘breeding ground’ for local small business
  • It’s a realistic, achievable proposition
  • Grants for projects such as this are available through the Federal Government Regional Development Fund and Community Development Grant Scheme
  • There would be a substantial long term regional economic benefit for local business owners and an on-flow of tourist spending in town

A Cultural Parkland by the beach

Another, slightly more radical concept I discussed, was what could happen if the First Sun Holiday Park, on the beach, was tuned into a Cultural Parkland – ie retunred to the public domain. The key reasons for proposing this idea are:

  • The existing caravan park creates a ‘Great Wall’ all along the western edge of the town centre – with no connectivity to the town centre
  • The site has enormous potential to be transformed into a world class Cultural Parkland, containing many of the cultural facilities that Byron could do with more of – entertainment stages, an art gallery, skate park, playground and cultural centre
  • A fabulous beachfront restaurant precinct could generate substantial revenue and be a huge drawcard for tourists and locals alike
  • Pedestrian through-connectivity to Belongil Beach and the adjacent proposed markets would mean a much more connected town – instead of Bay St terminating at the western end with a fence (as it does currently)
  • An opportunity exists to Pedestrianise the top end of Jonson St, but retain (some of) the existing beach front parking, which I believe to be an important part of the ‘Byron experience’. Access to the existing carpark could be provided utilising the existing First Sun entrance road (or accommodated on the western edge of the market site).







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