Byron Cr Duncan Dey has attempted to revive a 2009 move on holiday letting in the Shire.
While light on detail, Cr Dey’s motion at Thursday’s Byron Shire Council meeting ‘commits to investigating precincts rather than continuing to discuss their possibility’.
Crs Cubis and Di Woods voted against the motion.
The motion comes amid ongoing closed meetings between Byron Shire Council and interest groups including the Holiday Letting Organisation (HLO), and the Victims of Holiday Letting (VOHL), who oppose.
And despite years of complaints by residents affected by unruly visitors, Council staff noted in Cr Dey’s motion that ‘To date, little work has been done on the holiday let matter, but Council has resolved to deal with one specific unapproved tourist development at Old Bangalow Road, Byron Bay’.
Why so little work? According to Council’s media spokesperson, legal proceedings against holiday lets have been deferred, ‘until after results of a workshop with HLO, representatives of letting agents, councillors and staff to discuss options for regulation of holiday letting’. A forum with all stakeholders will take place in a few weeks’ time, they added.
But much had already been done on the topic in 2009, with a link to Council’s holiday letting plans still available online.
The Echo asked then-mayor Jan Barham why Council’s plans didn’t eventuate at the time. ‘HLO opposed it,’ she said. ‘They lobbied the [then-Labor] state government, and the government promised they would make a statewide policy.’
She says that never happened.
But Council’s plans may now carry some weight after the NSW coalition government indicated the issue should be dealt with locally. Additionally a landmark Land and Environment Court case in Gosford in May 2013 found short-term letting unlawful under Gosford City Council’s zoning rules. In response, that council immediately proposed to amend its local environment plan (LEP).
Cr Dey says that his plans are aimed at a long-term change, but conceded there are obstacles. ‘There are many people in high places with vested interests in holiday letting,’ he says. ‘We have to acknowledge that holiday letting is here to stay,’ he said. ‘You can’t get rid of it.’
The Echo asked HLO president John Gudgeon if his organisation would support Council’s proposal but he did not reply before deadline.
Previously he told The Echo he would prefer not to comment until talks with Council had been completed.