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Byron Shire
April 18, 2021

Byron holiday-let precincts revealed

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Byron Bay's potential holiday-let precinct (in pink) as shown in the discussion paper.
Byron Bay’s potential holiday-let precinct (in pink) as shown in the discussion paper.

Chris Dobney

The area of Suffolk Park proposed for holiday letting (pink).
The area of Suffolk Park proposed for holiday letting (pink).

A holiday-letting strategy paper presented by Byron Shire Council at this week’s closed meeting with stakeholders shows precincts covering almost all of Byron Bay and Suffolk Park together with the main beachside areas of Brunswick Heads, New Brighton and South Golden Beach.

The proposed West Byron development is specifically excluded from the suggested precincts.

But the paper suggests allowing an exemption for homes of up to five bedrooms within any residential zone, which could be rented out for a maximum of 60 days per year in December and January without requiring a permit.

An alternative would be a ‘complying development’ of up to three bedrooms, if permissible in the zone, with no restriction on the holiday-let period.

Under this option, property owners would have to register but they would automatically receive approval if their property complied.

The paper goes on to suggest two options that could be considered for identifying where holiday lets would be allowed, one based around defined precincts and the other around existing LEP zones.

Precinct model

Under the precinct model, holiday letting would only be ‘allowed within defined precincts, on an overlay map, in various towns and villages but only where a “dwelling” is permissible,’ according to the discussion paper.

The model would target houses with four to five bedrooms and the precinct model would not be used to expand the areas in which other ‘tourist and visitor accommodation’ can be approved.

Brunswick Heads' holiday-let precinct (in pink) as shown in the discussion paper.
Brunswick Heads’ holiday-let precinct (in pink) as shown in the discussion paper.

Zoning model

According to the discussion paper the zoning model is a more complex option that would not allow holiday letting in properties zoned R2.

To enable this, without overly intensifying holiday letting in a small area, the paper suggests some areas currently zoned R2 would have to be rezoned R1.

Additionally, areas currently zoned R3 and B4 would be permitted to include ‘tourist and visitor accommodation’ while specifically excluding larger-scale accommodation such as backpackers.

Maximum numbers

Byron Shire Council’s executive manager of planning, Ray Darney, said the workshop also looked at other issues including, ‘regulating the number of bedrooms, restricting the maximum number of people in a dwelling and ensuring that adequate facilities such as garbage collection and car parking were in place’.

‘Property owners who chose to holiday let would also have to ensure that the house complies with the Building Code of Australia and not have more than two substantiated complaints within a year made against the property to Council,’ he said.

Mr Darney told Echonetdaily that under the scheme holiday-let property owners may have to pay development application costs and or business rates.

‘The workshop was about trying to find a balance between maintaining amenity for our locals and at the same time recognising that holiday letting plays an important role in the our local economy,’ he said.

‘Input from the session will help inform a draft Holiday Letting Strategy which will be presented later in the year to the whole shire for comment.’

The New Brighton and South Golden Beach precincts proposed in the discussion paper.
The New Brighton and South Golden Beach precincts proposed in the discussion paper.

HLO absent

‘Unfortunately the Holiday Letting Organisation (HLO) couldn’t be present at that session [but] another workshop will be held in coming weeks,’ Mr Darney said.

HLO president John Gudgeon said he was out of town when the invitation to the meeting arrived.

‘We only got short notice and I believe they had a meeting and I haven’t heard any results about it,’ he told Echonetdaily

‘We had a chat to Council and they gave us 13 days to consider their proposal.

‘We said we weren’t in a position to meaningfully engage and we would speak to them later,’ Mr Gudgeon said.

‘There were issues in the discussion paper that we wanted to research before we had a meeting,’ he added.

‘It’s an ongoing process: Council is moving towards developing a position on holiday letting, which we support.

‘They are in a position of gathering information and also developing a position but it’s certainly a long way from being finalised,’ Mr Gudgeon said.

Also invited to the meeting were representatives of the real-estate industry, Australian Resident Accommodation Managers’ Association, Victims of Holiday Letting, the Byron Hinterland Collective and community representatives.


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14 COMMENTS

  1. Farcical and complete disregard for the amenity of residents and the plight of permanent renters. Shame on the council.

  2. Maximum capacity per dwelling is very important to ensure no party house syndrome – along wit a uniform code of conduct for the short tem tenants to agree to which should include outside noise level compliance with stiff financial penalties for breaches. We need holiday let in a town like Byron Bay but there must be better control – it can be done and needs the cooperation of owners , managers and tenants. Real estate agents will also need to be more accountable for the management and control issues.

    • How will council control the overcrowding that has so often occurred in the past? We have seen examples of four people going into a holiday let and the next night 20 of their mates turn up. By 2am there is a bunch of screaming drunken yobs who don’t care if the Police come. The absentee owner lives 2,000 kilometres away and the female manager is too afraid for her safety to go inside. By 5 am it has quietened as they fall paralytic on any place they can sleep it off. Finally, the long suffering neighbours can get some sleep, but are dreading the next assault on their neighbourhood amenity.The renters don’t care if they lose their bond.
      What is the answer? I don’t know. Ex- Greens councillor Rose Wanchap has said in the past to set a $5000 bond. This may work. Put restrictions on the number of people in the house at any one time and fine them or the owner or manager if this is exceeded. Anything would be better than the “hope nothing goes wrong” attitude that happens now. But, everyone forgets that holiday letting is ILLEGAL in 2(a0 Residential Zones until the LEP is changed. Prosecute the problem holiday lets Byron Council.

    • Correct. None of councillors live in these proposed areas. It is only proposed and as I see the maps the proposed precincts are intruding into many residential streets where there is little or no existing holiday lets. Our mayor said a few months ago that holiday precincts would only be found in an area (streets) where the majority of houses are now holiday let. The council will have to do a lot more work to satisfy ratepayers and permanent residents that their interests and amenity are going to be protected.

  3. This is a discrace this issue should have been dealt with years ago when residents were first Bullied bt the illegal holiday lets who continually thumb there noses at the rules that all other residents follow That is the LEP which clearly states what can and can’t happen in residential areas . A holiday let is a commercial operation and is like living next door to an all night garage. They also show disdain for the many accomodation that is here taking there money and clients. This is a knee jerk reaction after the successful court case in Gosford this will happen here this a band aid solution . Why don’t the council look after the residents and follow there own LEP People pay a lot of money for there homes and should be warned that they just may end up next door to a party house .Cant see many real estate agents doing this All other councils in tourist areas dealt with this problem ages ago No wonder HLO didnt turn up

  4. Sadly I think holiday letting will be approved in the Byron Shire, but the Coucil needs to look long and hard before they risk ruining peoples lives by approving it without due diligence and very careful planning. Every property considered for holiday letting should be individually assessed (just like everyone’s pool fences are being assessed). The neighbours adjoining the properties should be notified and allowed to make a submission regarding the impact on their lives (as many are already impacted negatively by the ones operating now) This should be taken into consideration along with the suitability of the property, numbers allowed, noise restrictions, management of the property including after hours disturbances and quick response to same. If the precincts outlined are approved, you can kiss goodbye normal family life in these areas, because people on holidays have no consideration about who the neighbours next door are, if they have to go to work in the morning, if the kids have to go to school, if they are old and sick, etc etc. People on holidays, are on holidays and that’s their only focus.

  5. Those of us who believed we purchased homes in zoned residential areas have been betrayed by a council that clearly has no interest in the community. How does council intend to regulate these properties, and how are neighbouring residents supposed to ” substantiate” any complaints they may make against a holiday let?
    Interestingly none of our esteemed councillors lives in Byron Bay and its a safe bet none of them has ever lived next to a holiday let.
    Welcome to Disneyland!

  6. It’s a shame that such a proposal is going forward. The spread of holiday letting has wrecked residential amenity and made house prices unaffordable in the older parts of town already. So now, let ‘er rip and get rid of ALL the residents from the areas that are walking distance to town? what a poorly thought-out idea, although I suspect it will be strongly supported by HLO and the real estate agents.

    I’d suggest Council look at a strategy that sets a maximum proportion of holiday letting to total housing in different areas, to reflect the current usage or less, taking the residents’ views into account more realistically. As development consent will be required for holiday lets (made easy by the use of the complying development mechanism) it would be possible to stop approvals when the agreed proportion is reached. After that, new contenders will have to wait till someone else stops holiday letting and relinquishes their approval. In this way, a reasonable balance can be kept between holiday let and real resident. It might help the rental situation too.

  7. WHAT THE F… Is this a bad joke on our council’s part? They have put my street into a potential holiday let precinct. There is absolutely NO holiday lets in my street. How can this be justified? I am very unhappy council and so are my neighbours. YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE TO DO A LOT BETTER

  8. A special meeting for the holiday lets lobby group because they needed extra time to consider the discussion paper! I think 13 days would be enough as they already have a policy. In all fairness and equity I assume a special meeting will be organised for representatives of the neighbours of these holiday lets.
    What does the holiday let lobby group want? A group that still does not believe that holiday letting is illegal and has disregarded legal precedents. A group that does not want zones or precincts and want holiday letting anywhere as they feel that they have a right to do what they like with their property. Planning Laws say differently.
    They want minimal controls to make it easier for them to operate. In other words, keep the present status quo and delay for as long as possible as has happened in the past. Is this ethical?
    There has been very little increase in Byron Shire B and B’s for the past several years. Holiday lets have minimal controls, no red tape paperwork, don’t have to meet standards, don’t pay a GST or council business rates and minimal effort is put into obtaining maximum profit. No wonder there has bee a growth in holiday lets.

  9. The potential to alter peoples lives by such a proposal, surely requires a public vote on such an emotive issue. Couldn’t it be decided by a referendum?

  10. Another holiday long weekend has passed and another offensive noise assault from the nearby holiday let. Four guests arrived on Friday afternoon and by midday on Saturday, another eleven had arrived. All vehicles had Qld number plates. The party had ramped up by late afternoon and the absentee owner and the manager could not be contacted. They wouldn’t do anything anyway as they are only interested in the profit and the guests not damaging the property.
    Rang the police when it was bad, but they said that it could be hours before they could attend because they were busy in Byron CBD. The noise quietened by 1am, and sleep for us was very welcome. This was repeated the next night.
    Will I report this to Council? Probably not, as they are powerless or unwilling to solve this sort of problem. At the moment they do not have the resolve to successfully deal with the problems that holiday letting creates. I hope this changes in the future!

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