The Byron Local Court last Thursday fined a Byron Bay resident $11,000 for running an unapproved backpacker hostel. The resident was also required to pay Byron Shire Council costs of $1,500.
Byron Shire Council’s governance manager Ralph James said it was a strong warning to anyone considering running an unapproved backpacker hostel.
‘Planning approval is essential to operate this type of tourism establishment,’ he said.
‘Approval sets out consent conditions such as number of occupants, car parking, access, fire safety, open space areas, noise, waste management and the number of required bathrooms. To simply open an unapproved hostel can pose serious fire safety and health concerns for occupants and impact on neighbouring properties.
‘Yesterday’s decision by the court was welcomed and sets yet another precedent that Council and the court does not tolerate unapproved backpacker hostels.’
Mr James says he first received complaints about the Byron Bay industrial estate unapproved backpacker establishment in February.
Following an investigation, the operator was prosecuted.
According to the Council-submitted documents, the backpackers were being charged $150 per week.
Mr James said the owner of the unapproved backpacker hostel worked co-operatively with Council during the court process.