Since 1980, population trends in Australia have indicated new patterns of urbanization involving substantial growth not only in the dominant conurbations, but also in suburban areas and in an extensive coastal zone (Paris, 1994). Comparisons can be made with the emergence of post‐suburban forms and processes in other parts of the world (Kling et. al., 1991). The principal aim of this paper is to present an analysis of some of the major local development conflicts and planning and environmental protection issues that are being faced by developers, planners and local communities as the urban restructuring of Australia takes place. The paper draws on evidence of urbanization on the upper North Coast of New South Wales and provides a detailed examination of two shires in the region — Ballina and Byron — where a study was carried out by the authors in 1994 and 1995. Previous research on the population and development trends in Australia is reviewed to provide a context within which the patterns in New South Wales and its North Coast may be placed, and a discussion is presented of the implications of new development with reference to Ballina Shire and Byron Shire. The usefulness of the postfordist model as an explanatory framework for examining these post‐suburban landscapes and contested space issues on the North Coast of NSW is also explored.