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Not enough honey for Brunswick Heads developer

DEVELOPMENT company Codlea has failed to gain land tax exemption for a parcel of land pegged for residential subdivision in Brunswick Heads - and all because it does not have enough beehives.

The company has been trying since the mid-1990s to get permission to build 167 residential lots on the Bayside Way property.

Now its efforts to get land tax discounts have failed in the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

It has so far only gained permission for a concept plan and the 31ha subdivision still needs Byron Shire Council's consent to go ahead.

Codlea has spent more than $1 million trying to get the project to construction stage on planning and legal costs, but the final go-ahead has not been received.

The company hired commercial beekeeper Michael Howes in 2011 to set up a system of hives on the property, as permitted with council consent under the site's residential zoning.

Mr Howes had approval to set up 120 hives and was paid every quarter to manage their upkeep.

The endeavour didn't ever make a profit, but Codlea attempted to gain special land tax exemption through NCAT because of the farming happening on site.

NCAT senior member Stephen Frost agreed the land's dominant use was currently for beekeeping, but took the advice of beekeeping expert Bruce White and found the operation too small to qualify for land tax exemption.

"Mr White had visited the apiary in August 2014 and observed that there were 65 active beehives on the site," he said.

"He noted that both (Codlea director Ian) Fraser and Mr Howes had indicated that there were 120 hives on site, but there were only 65 when Mr White attended the property.

"Even then, Mr White said that if there had been 120 hives on site when he visited, he would still regard the operation as a 'sideline' activity."