Development plans: Children jump off the town bridge at Brunswick Heads. Photo: Supplied
Search for a holiday location on the Destination NSW website and you might be lured by descriptions of the idyllic estuary town of Brunswick Heads, north of Byron Bay.
''Despite the ever-increasing popularity of this stretch of coast, Brunswick Heads has remained almost unchanged, very much a traditional, relaxed and unpretentious coastal town,'' it says.
But residents say the charm of the town is being threatened by plans the NSW government has for it and the other 25 holiday parks it runs on the north and south coasts along with eight inland parks.
Among the parks under the auspices of the NSW Crown Holiday Parks Trust are Hawks Nest, Seal Rocks, Nambucca Headland, Wategos and Lake Ainsworth.
Websites, petitions and protest groups have sprung up to confront development proposals, including the removal of a Brunswick Heads playground and the decking of a riverfront park.
Residents say the plans amount to theft of public land and rivers from the community for commercial use. They say the public would be denied access to foreshore parklands, walkways, swimming holes and boat ramps used for generations.
The NSW Crown Holiday Parks Trust was established by Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner ''to provide co-ordinated management of some of the state's most iconic coastal and inland caravan parks and reserves''.
The trust board is chaired by property industry executive Alan Revell and includes former Bunnings property general manager Matthew Toohey and professional board director and former senior executive with Mars Food Australia Margaret Haseltine.
Sean O'Meara, convener of the Foreshore Protection Group, said Brunswick Heads was the first town to be confronted by the trust.
''It is trying to fleece communities across NSW of their best public spaces so they can be turned into private, fenced and gated tourist enclaves,'' he said. ''It is clear from the composition of the board that it will be nothing more than a development company intent on commercially leasing these new developments to the highest bidder.
''What skills could these people possibly bring to abide by the conservation principles of Crown land?''
The right to manage the parks was removed from Byron Shire Council in 2006, which said it wants to regain control of the parks in the best interests of the community.
Mayor Simon Richardson said: ''When you start to commercialise the operations on those foreshore areas, the next step is to deny access to the public that have used them for more than a century.
''Brunswick Heads has very intelligently and quite strategically positioned itself and marketed itself under the banner of simple pleasures … People want to have a little bit less glitz and glamour and more simple, family friendly, low-impact holiday experiences.
''If caravan parks are controlled by the local council, which is accountable to the local community, it will ideally reflect the local community. Once you get away from that model, and start to have a commercial enterprise involved, they will simply see that real estate as something that requires profitability.''
A spokesman for the Deputy Premier said creation of the trust had provided operational efficiencies for the administration of 34 holiday parks with combined assets of $82 million.
''A number of false claims continue to be circulated within the community despite repeated attempts by the trust to correct them,'' he said. ''The truth is the draft plans do not remove any foreshore land from public use and the parks are not being privatised.
''The draft plans of management are on extended public exhibition until February 21, 2014. All responses received will be evaluated before any decision is made. Local residents are encouraged to have their say on the draft plans.''