Neighbours of a luxury Broken Head estate say they will take legal action to stop weddings and other functions being held there after Byron Shire Council paved the way to approve a proposal by the owner of one of the dwellings, singer-songwriter Tim Freedman.
Mr Freedman, the former frontman of The Whitlams, who owns one of the seven strata-title units at Pavilions estate, had lodged a development application (DA) to run up to 14 functions a year limited to 70 guests.
Council on Thursday voted 7–2 (Crs Basil Cameron and Patrick Morrissey against) to obtain a staff report giving consent conditions, including addressing the issue of obtaining strata owners’ consent, for consideration at its 1 March meeting.
Planning staff had recommended refusal to the plan on several grounds, including that it was a prohibited development in a tourist zoning, would create noise and disturbance to neighbours and did not provide sufficient parking.
Council had previously knocked back a similar approval for 18 events last November.
Neighbouring landowner Wayne Lazarus, who had appealed to councillors during community access to refuse the DA, told Echonetdaily after the decision that he and other adjoining freehold landowners, as well as some of the seven strata owners, would take legal action to stop any approval of the plan.
Mr Lazarus told councillors the weddings and functions were purely a ‘commercial enterprise’ and not suitable for the tourist zoning of the estate and that events upsetting neighbours had gone on ‘unchecked’ for two years. He listed a number of alleged illegal activities during the functions including excessive noise, cooking in garages, power leads strung across grass, and a fire exit which was ‘just a hole in the fence with shadecloth over it’.
But Mr Freedman said the latest DA was for only 14 functions, finishing at 9pm, with a ban on any live or amplified music or public-address systems, which was more in line with ‘quiet gatherings’. He said he was surprised to hear that food was prepared in a garage and said he would ensure it didn’t happen again, proposing to use catering companies instead.
Cr Ross Tucker, who had moved to allow the DA with conditions, said the tourism zoning of the area allowed such functions and the applicant was prepared to make concessions on limiting noise and operation times, which could best be dealt with by consent conditions.
Cr Tucker said concerns about whether the other owners of the strata title needed to or had given their consent to have weddings and functions there could be addressed by staff in their report.
But Cr Patrick Morrissey said there were strong objections from other owners of the common land who had not given consent to use the land for functions with their ‘catering vans or limos’ and council had to be mindful of that.
Cr Basil Cameron said it was a shared property and not a typical resort, so strata owners’ consent was vital. Cr Cameron said that just because the proposal could have an economic benefit did not mean it could ‘trump the amenity of residents and surrounding neighbours’.
He said parking was insufficient for up to 70 guests and a swimming pool was not fenced, breaching safety guidelines. The proposal needed more work ‘before tweaking with consent conditions’.
Mayor Jan Barham said she lived across the road from the estate longer than any of the objectors and the unit nearest her house, the manager’s residence, had in the past caused more problems than Mr Freedman’s unit, with loud noise late into the night, which had prompted her to call the police on occasions.
Cr Barham pointed out the irony of the shire having homes in residential zones used for tourist accommodation ‘which we’ve tried to stop for 10 years’, and tourism-zoned function centres ‘used for weddings, parties and anything and now people want to live there full time’.
After the decision, Mr Freedman told Echonetdaily he was ‘happy’ that ‘both sides of politics had seen the merit’ of the application.