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Byron Shire
April 10, 2021

Holiday letting precincts will lead to no-go zones

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The balance between tourism and the local community has always been a fraught topic, not just here in Byron. Locals don’t want to live in tourist enclaves and tourists want to be part of the local home-grown ambience. This requires a great deal of goodwill and cooperation to achieve what will always be a somewhat untidy arrangement. Just like families – an imperfect joy.

Many places around the world and in Australia have killed the goose that laid the golden egg. Some by not maintaining infrastructure [tourism studies show visitors’ behaviour is more respectful where locals have pride in their place] others have been heavy on regulation like the Gold Coast and created sterile tourist areas unfriendly to locals. These places are ultimately abandoned by both locals and visitors in search of something more authentic.

I have returned home to Byron after 17 years battling in environmental and planning policy to find the Byron character as reassuringly quixotic and colourful as it always was. Our neighbourhood is bubbling with young and old enthusiasm overshadowing any negatives. Some of the older folk maintain a tenuous hold on their properties by topping up their pensions with occasional holiday letting. Yes there are noisy parties (sometimes ours) but as our 80+ neighbour says, ‘’that’s life. They usually run out of steam or the cops come. It’s no big deal’.

I understand some locals have had a torrid time with rowdy holiday lets. The general opinion seems to be this is the exception, not the rule. Owners, agents, council and police should work together to minimise the problems. With permanent holiday lets coucil could certainly ask for a DA for the use (home-based activity) and impose conditions. Most importantly the ‘chill out’ message should be reinforced more actively including in rental negotiations and agreements. There are good ideas that work elsewhere.

It is with great alarm that I see calls for more rules and regulation as opposed to more cooperation and negotiation to manage the issues that inevitably arise in a tourist town.

I strongly believe holiday letting precincts would be a retrograde step in the very unlikely event the department of planning would allow them (unless as a segue to high-rise). Zones would be the first step towards unruly ‘anything goes’ ghettos where locals would be forced out.

I have heard counter-claims that there are no local residents left in Wategos, Suffolk Park or the grid but this denied by surprised and indignant locals. A few facts and a chill pill all round.

If the claim is we are not capable of managing holiday letting now, how will zoning help?

Dorothy Mullins , Byron Bay


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  1. Having endured a year of living next door to a holiday let I totally disagree with you Dorothy It was like living next door to an all night garage Not to mention the parties. I also know of many older people who have gone to dangerous lengths to protect thier homes and properties, You imply that is all manageable and is easy Ha The only way I got peace and my rights was when I found out that the owners were moving in and I promised to holiday let my home the day they moved in .They promptly changed their minds .I did all the right things when I brought my home and expect the same from others I wish you a holiday let next door and then you will know why this is such a problem

  2. Dorothy notes that ‘Many places ….have killed the goose that laid the golden egg’.
    I would aver that the goose did a stinking big t***!

  3. I don’t know where Dorothy gets her information from, but every single holiday let in my area, including the one next door to me, is a problem. Many of the problems involve offensive noise and anti-social behaviour. I suggest Dorothy speaks to members of Victims of Holiday Letting and she will get a different and realistic perspective.

  4. Dorothy, you have been absent for 17 years and Byron has changed with a huge growth in holiday letting. Holiday letting has always been illegal in residential areas and this was confirmed by a Land and Environment Court judgement in May 2013. Many of these holiday lets are owned by absentee owners who are “carpetbaggers” and are only interested in making a profit and don’t care about a local community or the neighbours.
    You say the occasional party is OK, but there are many holiday lets where parties occur almost every weekend, and often during weekdays. The vehicles outside these problem holiday lets often have Qld number plates.
    The neighbours are often afraid to report these incidents to the Police and know that Byron Council is powerless or not willing to act against the illegal holiday lets. Voluntary regulation has been tried for 9 years by HLO and has been an abysmal failure.

    Dorothy, you need to get your facts correct and stop being an apologist for the illegal holiday let owners.

  5. Dorothy,we have just endured a weekend of hell from the nearby holiday let. This is the 14th problem that I have recorded this year and I regard this as one of the worst.
    Six young males arrived on Friday afternoon and immediately the music on the back deck was turned on full. Then we had the sound of smashing bottles as the empties were thrown into the bin. This was interspersed by swearing, screaming and yelling. Eventually, all went quiet about 1am on Saturday morning.
    Late on Saturday morning my youngest daughter ran into the house saying that the men in the holiday rental were being disgusting. I went into the yard and four of the males were on the balcony urinating, apparently having a competition to see who could urinate furthest. I yelled at them to put it away and was greeted by a wave from one of the males. Is this the type of tourist we want in Byron, Dorothy?
    They went out but returned with about eight of their mates later in the afternoon. Immediately, a repeat of the previous night started. Added to this they played some hard core pornography on the wide screen with the sound turned up high. Even the occasional heavy downpour could not drown out the sound of the fake orgasms. Later some hookers arrived and we heard screams of “hurry up , it’s my turn for a f..k’ All went quiet at 9pm as they left for town.The owner could not be contacted.
    I wish I had a bucket of Dorothy’s chill pills. I would have willingly thrown the lot at them.


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