The iconic carpark at Byron Bay could make way for parkland under the new Byron Bay draft  masterplan.
The iconic carpark at Byron Bay could make way for parkland under the new Byron Bay draft masterplan. DAVID NIELSEN

Battle continues over $4.5m hotel with rooftop pool, bar

A BOUTIQUE hotel with a rooftop pool and bar in Byron Bay is one step closer, after a ruling in the Land and Environment Court this week.

Ardill Payne & Partners, on behalf of the developers, lodged an appeal after Byron Shire Council refused the $4.5 million project.

In a judgment published online, the court upheld the appeal and approved the four-storey building for Marvell St, Byron Bay. It will include a rooftop pool and bar, 24 hotel rooms, a ground floor restaurant and a basement carpark for 18 cars.

But the council is now considering its own appeal.

In refusing the plans, the council had raised numerous concerns, particularly relating to the building's height, which exceeded the 11.5m limit in order to accommodate the lift overrun and the rooftop facilities.

Mayor Simon Richardson said the council was "trying to avoid a town that is just beset with rooftop bars looking down onto the streets where people walk".

"We want an activated and vibrant streetscape and we acknowledge that area is beginning to change," he said.

"(Rooftop bar culture) may suit some areas in cities or some regions around the world and Australia, but I think Byron doesn't need to have that.

"We pride ourself on trying to be a little bit of a place of difference.

"(Council) was trying to make a planning decision that was based on trying to reflect our community's expectations of how our towns look and feel."

Land and Environment Court commissioner Jenny Smithson, in her judgment, said the height of the main roof of the building was compliant, and she did not believe the rooftop bar, pool and amenities constituted a fourth storey "per se".

Ms Smithson said there were no objections from nearby residents, and the development would be similar in height to the neighbouring building at 6 Marvell St.

"It is, in my view, as important to have a quality design as a numerically compliant one," she said in her judgment.

"The height breaches will not be visible from the street nor to any significant degree from public vantage points in the vicinity.

"The site is also in the vicinity of other buildings which, even if not technically four storeys, have elements or features above a habitable third storey."

In summing up, Ms Smithson said the proposed hotel would "only add to the character of the area".

"It (the development) will provide employment opportunities... it will encourage vibrancy, given the uses proposed and with the design at the ground level in particular."

But Cr Richardson said the council was expecting a briefing from staff considering an appeal.

"We need to go through the judgment with a fine tooth comb," he said.

"There's cognition of not wasting our ratepayers' money in courts but, at the same time, we do always reserve the right to go to court to defend our community's rights and expectations and culture."

He said the council will be getting an advisor to recommend ways forward and make a decision in the coming days.