Councillors to decide Bluesfest

CROWD-PULLER: Part of the large crowd at this year’s Bluesfest at Belongil Fields.
CROWD-PULLER: Part of the large crowd at this year’s Bluesfest at Belongil Fields. Brenden Allen

BYRON councillors will decide today whether to approve Bluesfest's controversial bid to move to a new venue next year.

Organisers want to hold the five-day festival on a 120-hectare tea tree farm at Tyagarah, and make it Bluesfest's permanent home.

The event has been held at Belongil Fields for the past two years, but its growth and plans to rezone and redevelop the site have forced organisers to look elsewhere.

Bluesfest organisers say a move to Tyagarah will have many advantages, including keeping traffic out of Byron Bay over the busy Easter weekend.

The Tyagarah site was chosen for its size, its ability to accommodate camping, access, acoustic characteristics and ecological features. There is also very little development close by.

But the proposal has drawn opposition from parts of the community about the scale of the event, noise, traffic and amenity impacts in the north of the shire, environmental damage, illegal camping, impacts on nearby businesses and property security.

John Bailey, of the Byron Ratepayers' Association, says Bluesfest should stay in Byron Bay.

“It should be close to town. Each night there'll be 15,000 people turned out on to our roads - it's going to create a huge issue with safety,” he said.

Mr Bailey said large-scale festivals had very little economic benefit for the local community, as most goods and services were provided 'in-house' at the festival site.

“Council has got to knock it back,” he said.

A council report on Bluesfest's development application reveals that of the 86 public submissions received, 85 were against the proposal.

It acknowledges there is a high level of concern about the move, but highlights the benefits Bluesfest brings to the area.

Bluesfest injects more than $16 million into the local economy, creates up to 68 jobs, and is 'an important and iconic event in the cultural, creative and musical calendar of Byron Bay', it says.

It recommends council approve the application, but proposes development consent be granted for a maximum of five years so exact impacts of traffic, car parking, noise and on the natural environment can be reassessed.

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