Tom Tabart, Bangalow
There is no doubt that John Gudgeon has been a very successful advocate for the holiday-let lobby managing to delay and frustrate all efforts of council and the resident community to rid Byron Shire of this anti-social scourge.
Against the backdrop of supine state governments and their pliable local representatives, pro-unrestricted-development councillors and foot-dragging (until recently) council staff, the establishment of an ineffectual control organisation and a tireless stream of propaganda, he has kept the law at bay for over 10 years.
Even if holiday-letting is now properly controlled his largely-absentee-landlord constituency should be well satisfied with the huge profits they have extracted at the cost of our resident community.
The Byron LEP (ask the head planner) and the string of legal precedents on the recent Terrigal judgement (also constantly cited by Jan Barham to no avail) clearly show that holiday-letting in residential zones is illegal.
The crux of the matter are two definitions that Mr Gudgeon constantly (and with some success) attempts to blur in favour of his backers. The definition of a ‘dwelling house’ clearly requires that the owner is the main resident (unless leased for over three months) and not someone from the Gold Coast who never visits the property. If it is let exclusively for short-term occupancy it is a ‘tourist establishment’. The latter is an illegal use in a residential zone.
Legalities aside, holiday-letting does not pay standard fees and is an unfair competitor for the legitimate tourist accommodation providers. It is also a huge risk to customers, the owners and the council as the insurance cover is unlikely to cover the commercial use and the safety requirements for the property are not policed and unlikely to meet the required standard.
Byron has seen a few fires in such establishments with fortunately no casualties, so far.
The council’s recent ‘cunning plan’ to again consult with the holiday-letters (residential groups excluded) was a tactic that failed miserably eight years ago but will be welcomed by Mr Gudgeon as yet another chance to delay and obfuscate.