If Byron becomes just like any other overdeveloped tourist town then people will stop coming and business will suffer. Byron has always been a town that people visited because of its laid-back, smaller town feel. We have kept out topless bars, most fast food chains and Club Med because they didn’t fit with the way we want to live and visitors don’t want that either. Our strongest marketing tool is our point of difference from many other over-cooked coastal towns.
There are just under 10,000 people living in Byron Bay. With 1500+ homes to be built at West Byron we can expect at least 3,300 more people in the town in just one development. This is an enormous increase and no proper assessment of the social impacts has been done. The homes could sell to people who let them out for holiday rentals or they could be permanent residents. Either way the impacts on the rest of the town will be significant.
Where are the new people going to work? Latest figures show an unemployment rate in Byron of 7.7% as compared to the national rate of 5.6%. Many people are underemployed, working part-time in tourism and hospitality. There may be some jobs during the building phase and later in the development’s commercial centre but not enough for all those new residents, who will be placing pressure on a job market that is already tight.
Byron Bay Public School is close to capacity. There is no provision for an increase in the school population of such a size as this development would likely generate.