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.
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.
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.
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.’
‘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.