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Byron Shire
February 26, 2021

Over-55s weigh in on Byron holiday letting

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[author]Hans Lovejoy[/author]

At last week’s Byron Shire Council meeting, an ex-councillor and representative of an over-55s complex, Hugh Ermacora, urged Council to get tougher on the issue of holiday letting.

Supporters of Mr Ermacora cheered and interjected comments during public access.

Mr Ermacora said concerns about noisy schoolies celebrations next to the retirement village where he lives motivated him to act.

He said the Cape Byron Estate has a ‘long and sad history and [holiday letting] has had a detrimental health impact on at least one elderly owner’.

The complex is located between Cooper Street and Pacific Vista Drive, Byron Bay, and Echonetdaily understands there are two holiday-letting establishments in close proximity.

‘A commercial operation which targets young holidaymakers, situated right next to an over-55s complex, has to be a recipe for disaster,’ said Mr Ermacora.

Targeting schoolies

‘Putting aside the question of lawfulness and land-use zonings, I am mindful of the tenor and language used in the “Terms and Agreement” documents I have been provided [from the said holiday let accommodation]. The targeted guests are obviously young holiday makers. One of the documents is even entitled “For Schoolies Bookings”.’

Council staff are keeping the lid on what action is being taken; however, Council’s governance manager Ralph James told Echonetdaily that the Council report remains confidential and the properties within the report cannot be named.

‘Any properties, in which legal proceedings are commenced, will be notified in the coming weeks,’ he said.

At Thursday’s meeting, however, Council resolved to deal with the matter in open session in future after it was initially tabled as confidential.

Crs Patrick Morrisey and Richard Staples put forward a motion that ‘The general manager be authorised to manage the litigation in respect of the reported properties identified in the report in accordance with the general manager’s general delegations’.

Echonetdaily understands that Mr Ermacora has corresponded with the the Holiday Letting Organisation (HLO) over the ongoing issue. HLO represents holiday letters and operates a security hotline to deal with noisy tourists.

Mr Ermacora told Echonetdaily, ‘The problem is that whatever countermeasures or remedial action is taken, it takes place after the event when the damage has already been done’.

‘As I see it, apart from some cosmetic stuff, the HLO is not in a position to provide a “resolution” as such. This will have to come from Council’s initiative and the defining of “holiday letting” vis-a-vis a “tourist facility” by the courts.

HLO’s representative John Gudgeon kept his response short and told Echonetdaily, ‘Holiday letting is very much a legal aspect of property rental’.

The comment comes despite Council’s current policy on tourist facilities in its Local Environmental Plan 1988 (LEP).

Tourist facilities are prohibited on residential 2(a) land, according to the document.

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