Byron Shire Council is poised to consider placing permanent controls on holiday letting after its controversial draft strategy attracted more than 150 submissions in its recent six-week exhibition period.
Byron’s executive manager of sustainable environment and economy, Ray Darney, said that over the recent holiday period the council had received ‘few complaints regarding problems of holiday letting properties in residential areas’.
But he added that the council needed to complete its strategy ‘to provide clarity to those that own property that is holiday let, and to those people who had concerns regarding noise, parking and nuisances that sometimes occur due to this use’.
“The draft Byron Shire Short Term Holiday Accommodation Strategy was exhibited by council for a period of six weeks leading up to Christmas,’ he said.
‘Council has received over 150 submissions expressing a wide range of views on the planning options proposed, including banning holiday letting in residential areas, through to there being no planning controls on holiday letting and the industry be reliant on self regulation.’
Mr Darney said the draft strategy ‘provides controls that will enable holiday letting to occur in dwelling houses across Byron Shire with specific requirements for either a Development Application or, a Complying Development Application to be lodged’.
‘In some cases Exempt Development may be applicable where a dwelling is only let during school holiday periods,’ he added.
Council staff are currently reviewing the submissions and their report is set to come before council in February or March.
Mr Darney described the issue as ‘complex’, and said that ‘in the absence of any clear direction from the department of planning or a statewide policy, council needs to clarify the matter through its planning controls’.
He added that a number of NSW councils, including Gosford, Eurobodalla, Shoalhaven, Wyong, Blue Mountains and Kiama, have so far introduced planning controls.
Former Byron mayor Jan Barham has been a vocal critic of the strategy, which would allow holiday-letting across the shire with DA approval or, in the case of properties which are only let during school holidays, as a ‘complying development’.
Ms Barham told Echonetdaily the proposal ‘makes a mockery of the process of strategic planning’.
‘Byron Shire Council should be protecting the rights of residents to live in a community. Too much effort has been undertaken by the community to have it turned into a commodity.’
But current Byron mayor Simon Richardson, has defended the move, saying a previous plan to develop holiday-let precincts would centralise the problem and preference some landlords over others.
‘Many people found [the precinct model] way too arbitrary and with the state government responding negatively, many people found it just too punitive.’
Cr Richardson said the new aim of ‘improving the management of holiday letting and increasing requirements for it’ would ‘encourage some people to let their properties long-term instead’.
‘The latest data shows a large majority of holiday-let dwellings are bought by people in Melbourne and Sydney who are holiday letting until they make their sea-change,’ he said.