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August 4, 2021

Group calls for action against holiday letting

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Members from a group that say they have been affected by Byron’s holiday letting industry are calling on Byron Shire Council to crack down on holiday letting in residential zones.

It comes after a meeting between Victims Of Holiday Letting (VOHL), community representatives and Council last Tuesday.

While thanking Council, including staff, for the opportunity to present their concerns, spokesperson Doug Luke told Echonetdaily that he hopes to see a more proactive compliance approach by Council toward holiday letting in residential zones.

‘We are rapidly losing our demographic diversity and our vibrant alternative culture,’ said Mr Luke.

‘VOHL welcomes holiday letting in areas appropriately zoned for tourism and close to the beach. VOHL’s position is that holiday letting is illegal and has serious detrimental impacts on individual residents and the shire as a community and a society.’

Mr Luke claims self-regulation by the HLO (Holiday Letting Organisation) and its code of conduct are ‘absolutely useless’.

‘The only protection achieved is for the financial interests of the industry. Council and therefore its councillors have a duty of care for citizens and residents. VOHL is simply asking Council to uphold the law and as soon as possible put up a motion in Council to reinstate compliance action against the Suffolk Park property where the case is ready to go to court.’

He says the group ‘now has concerns about holiday letting multiplying in the north of our Shire, as evidenced by the impacts felt recently from the Splendour In The Grass festival attended by 25,000 people.’

‘While compliance action continues,’ he says, ‘VOHL believes that a development control plan (DCP) should be worked on and inserted into the local environment plan (LEP). Can the state government help us here? VOHL would like the ball to stop bouncing between Council and state.’

Mayor responds

And while Mayor Simon Richardson agrees that ‘Council has an obligation to act on a compliance issue when it has been notified of a breach’, he told The Echo he does ‘not want Council to spend years in court, taking on one compliance matter after another’.

He says that under the current local environment plan (LEP), holiday letting in a residential zone is a prohibited use.

‘I am trying to find a compromise that can provide a clear understanding in the community as to where holiday letting can occur and where it cannot.

‘Within the area that holiday letting may be considered acceptable, we need to develop stringent management strategies to make sure the noise, rubbish, fire safety and parking issues are addressed properly.

‘Within the DCP [development control plan] and new LEP we need to embed clear and fair regulation.

‘In this way, we can protect residents who have decided to live in an area with a thriving community instead of a constant stream of short-term visitors, while ensuring the holiday letting industry can provide accommodation to our visitors so pressure for highrises can be dampened.’

Echonetdaily contacted Holiday Letting Organisation’s (HLO) John Gudgeon but he declined to comment.

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