Caretaker Tony Lewis is pictured at the Tyagarah site which is now the permanent home for the East Coast Blues and Roots Festival.
Caretaker Tony Lewis is pictured at the Tyagarah site which is now the permanent home for the East Coast Blues and Roots Festival.

Noble’s dream for Bluesfest site now a reality

In the end, Peter Noble’s dream of having a permanent site for his phenomenally successful East Coast Roots and Blues Festival (Bluesfest) came down to Byron Mayor Cr Jan Barham.

With the vote locked at four-all at last week’s Byron Council meeting, Cr Barham used her casting vote to give the go-ahead to approve the application by Bluesfest to hold the annual event at Tyagarah for the next three years.

“It’s been a dream of mine to have a permanent festival site since 1996,” Mr Noble said.

“Today’s decision is a big day for arts and culture in the Byron Shire.”

Mr Noble said that in 2002 the then Byron Council had told him to find a new site for the festival, which over the years has been held at Red Devil Park and Belongil Fields.

“So I looked around and found the 260-acre site at Tyagarah and it was just perfect,” he said.

“We will only use about the half the site for the festival and the rest will be left as tea tree plantations.

“The site is near Byron Bay, but has great access and will be ideal for a festival.”

Bluesfest purchased the site in May 2007 and submitted a DA to Byron Council to use it as a permanent festival site in June 2008.

Mr Noble said it had been a long time and he had spent a lot of money to finally get approval.

But the approval did not come without several conditions.

These included reducing the number of daily festival-goers from the 20,000 that organisers had asked for to 17,500; to reduce the consent period from five years to three years; that paid representatives of the New South Wales Fire Brigade and SES be invited on site; strict noise restrictions be put in place; and that the entrance to Grays Lane east of Tanner Lane be restricted to residents and their guests for the duration of the festival.

Bluesfest will also be required to provide a social impact statement each year, and all security personnel must be fully accredited by festival management.

Mr Noble said there were a couple of conditions that he would have to ‘think about’.

“I am investing in a multi-million-dollar festival and to only get a three-year approval and to have to put in the necessary infrastructure for the site, well, that will take some thought,” he said.

“I’m not sure about a couple of these conditions which I have to say I am not really pleased with.”

 Mr Noble said that at this stage he only intended to hold one major festival on the site each year and he would not offer it to organisers of Splendour In The Grass.

Crs Ross Tucker, Tony Heeson, Basil Cameron and Patrick Morrisey voted against the motion to approve the development application.

Cr Morrissey said the grounds were simply too flood-prone for such a large number of people and public access to the beach would be restricted by the festival.

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