The Tweed Shire Council is to follow Byron council’s lead in trying to gain some control over the holiday letting industry.
It’s been estimated that up to 700 properties are being used for holiday letting without any approvals from the council.
Mayor Barry Longland put forward a motion calling for a report that ‘provides the scope for the preparation of a holiday letting strategy paper’.
The report, to be given priority-planning status, would ‘identify a range of appropriate planning mechanisms needed to support this strategy’.
It was noted that there were currently 14 development applications for tourist accommodation before the council.
Cr Longland said consultation with key stakeholders and the community on any new policy formulation was ‘essential’.
He said the motion sought to create a clearer policy direction for those DAs, as well as for a longer-term strategic position.
Cr Carolyn Bryne moved an amendment that any report should also identify areas not suitable for holiday letting to ensure existing residents were not impacted by being included in holiday letting zones.
Cr Byrne said under the existing LEP there was a ‘brushstroke to say holiday letting was permitted without consent’.
She said this created angst for residents in small unit developments where just one unit was being let out to holidaymakers.
Cr Longland argued against, saying the way forward was to look at appropriate zones or else ‘we’ll be going street to street’.
‘We’ve been letting this happen for decades and done nothing about it,’ he said.
Cr Gary Bagnall also resisted the change, saying that ‘areas change, people move away’.
‘What happens when people die or move away? It cuts out the future potential (for holiday letting),’ he said.
However, Cr Katie Milne supported Cr Byrne, pointing out that the Byron strategy had identified the west side of Byron as appropriate but not the east side.
‘It’s not just about where it can be done but where it shouldn’t be done,’ she said.
The amendment was carried.
Cr Michael Armstrong said the council should have engaged the community on the issue from the beginning.
‘We are seemingly creating a report without the community having a say,’ he said.
‘I’m hopeful that at the least it will be a paper with a range of options where the community can have its say. I’d be disappointed if it just said, here are your options, like it or lump it’.