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Byron Shire
March 1, 2021

Crack down on illegal letting

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Jenny Coman, Bangalow

When a council ignores its own rules and regulations, how can it expect its residents and ratepayers to comply with them? Holiday renting in residential zones is illegal and has been ever since the 1988 LEP; the recent Terrigal decision simply reinforces this.

Byron Shire Cr Wanchap’s attempts to sidestep the issue by suggesting yet another way of supporting the illegal practice does her no credit. Given that successive councils have failed to act (despite heartfelt pleas from residents, many of whom have given up and moved away) and that the illegality has continued for so long, a case could be made for giving these renters a (limited) period of time to cease operating – and sell if that’s what they want to do. I believe this should be the basis of any future negotiations.

No more endless talkfests and useless attempts to bring together totally disparate interests. I think all councillors attended at least some of the public meetings held earlier in the year to hear about Byron’s problems around New Years Eve and beyond – and many of the stories we heard were heart-rending.

I welcome the current planning for NYE but Council’s duty of care is supposed to apply all year round so we wait to see if this council will finally take action against holiday letting and prove itself worthy of our respect.

 


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1 COMMENT

  1. My in-laws visited us at Suffolk Park with my partner’s 90 year old grandmother. They rented a house to be near their new grandson, as well as having the comfort of separate rooms and bathrooms. Two of my close friends are self employed and raising the next generation of Byronians. They rent their home out during peak times to cover the lean times in winter. These are just two examples of holiday letting which do no harm, and bring real benefits to our community.

    The vast majority of residents in Byron came here initially to holiday, and then stayed, as I did 30 years ago. Like it or not, Byron is a holiday destination. Removing all 600+ holiday lets would harm our economy, put locals out of work, and close the very businesses we locals love to use. Maybe for the retired or pensioned this wouldn’t matter too much, but for the rest of the community, especially young people, tourism and all the associated support services are the only jobs available.

    Let’s also not forget that holiday letting in other areas, such as Brunswick Heads, is not the problem it is in some parts of Byron Bay. Making blanket rules would be unfair in some places.

    The Gosford decision resulted in that Council making holiday letting legal, as other Councils had already done. The court decision is not simply a law applying to every NSW Council. It also directs Councils to deal with the issue, one way or another.

    No one wants to live next to a party night after night. This has to be stopped. But simply closing down all venues is not the answer. I do not want large hotels replacing holiday houses, which ironically are part of what makes Byron Shire different to the Gold Coast.

    This is why Rose and other Councillors are looking for solutions that reflect the complexity and divergent needs of the community. Nothing is ever as simple as it seems when tough decisions have to be made, for all.

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