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Byron holiday-let strategy inches towards approval

Chris Dobney

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.


7 responses to “Byron holiday-let strategy inches towards approval”

  1. Bob says:

    This is outrageous. How about the Council just enforce the LEP law that they already made so that we can start to feel like a community again. Adding legitimate holiday letting to Byron does nothing for the community. But, the businesses, greedy management companies and owners will rejoice. As long as they win I suppose it’s ok for everyone else to lose, right?

    No one will buy property with intent of actually living here. Our neighbourhoods will become ghost towns even more than they already have and long time residents will leave. I guess HLO is so deep in the pockets of our 3 less-than-admirable Councillors that the writing is on the wall. Thanks for nothing, Council. You stabbed us in the back. This is a dark day for Byron. Time to leave.

  2. patricia warren says:

    The state government refuses to support precinct zones for holiday letting and refuses Council the power to impose a registration fee on holiday lets. A differential council rate on holiday lets would be illegal. Thus, without a revenue base supporting holiday letting, it will be left to the ratepayers to fund the strategy.

    Byron Shire residents need to take on board, that a planning control is an invitation to develop to the maximum what that instrument allows. In the case of the holiday let strategy, it will be an invitation for every dwelling to be holiday let because the notion of ‘dwelling’ has been vigorously challenged by those in the tourist industry to include all types of dwellings.

    The observed increase in garbage, demand for water and sewerage, traffic and parking problems in Brunswick Heads, over the Xmas/New Year period does little to convince me that tourism doesn’t impact as much as the locals on infrastructure. This has been said directly to me with the qualifier that tourists don’t call on child care and library services as much as the locals. The inherent logic in the argument is that the impact of tourism is relative but the industry is exempt from that relative cost. I am unconvinced that promoting a laissez-faire approach to holiday letting can be extended to a freebie on the capital and maintenance costs of infrastructure.

  3. Tweed says:

    The trouble with people like Bob is that they don’t understand that Australia belongs to Australians. We are free to visit any city or town in Australia. We are free to live a short time in a place or a long time in a place.
    The precious people like Bob feel they are a separate little enclave and they can run it like a fiefdom and exclude people based on his own narrow little world. Personally I don’t like Byron. It is badly maintained and has an over supply of small minded wankers. The beach is ok, not as good as further up the coast. It is when you come off the beach and head into the town, the disappointment sets in.

    • John says:

      Tweed, being an Australian citizen brings certain responsibilities, including upholding the law. Holiday letting in R2 residential zones in Byron Shire is a prohibited activity. Under the Planning laws it is illegal to let out a residence for a period of less than 90 days. This principle has been supported in the NSW Land and Environment Court. The Council has a duty of responsibility to its residents to uphold the law until the law is changed.

  4. John says:

    Ray Darney stated that there were very few complaints to council about holiday lets over the holiday period. This does not reflect what is actually happening in the community. Many neighbours of holiday lets won’t report problems to council because they are aware that council is limited in its powers to act. Others know that they will be intimidated by owners who are only interested in raking in maximum profit if they complain and regard the neighbours as nuisances.

    Council compliance is understaffed and under resourced. This will have to change if council wants any new strategy to be successful. The strategy that was put on display had so many faults that a lorry could have been driven through it. Protecting the amenity of neighbours of holiday lets is absolutely essential.

  5. bob says:

    Nice one, Tweed. LEP laws are set forth in the best interests of the public and the communities in which they reside. That’s what you want when you join a community. That’s what you pay for. We reside in R2. R2 is not commercial – it is residential. Holiday letting is commercial.

    This isn’t about exclusion, Tweed. It’s about inclusion: include the best interests of the community first. Include and enforce the laws that are already in place. Include the best interests of the hotels, the B&B’s and the outlets that operate within the law – the same places whose market share is severely diluted by illegal holiday lets.

    What I feel that i’m entitled to, Tweed, is a Council that lives up to its own laws. Laws that are in-place for the best interests of our community. It’s what we signed up for. It’s why we live here. Unfortunately, Byron council has failed us. The “little world’ that I prescribe-to, Tweed, is called the law.

  6. Geoff Bensley says:

    The NSW Government and NSW Planning Dept has left little scope or support to implement a LEP to protect everyone. They have only given councils 2 zoning options that are relevant for residential areas in this shire. The framework only has R2 (low density residential) or R3 (medium density residential) available to work with. In Lennox Head (Ballina Shire) they have zoned most of the area from Lake Ainsworth to The Point as R3 and most of the hill area from the reservoir to Skennars Head as R2. Their LEP does state that “tourist and visitor accomodation” is prohibited in R2 but not in R3 but being that R3 is medium density it allows apartment blocks to be built.
    Unless NSW Planning gives councils more LEP zoning options we are stuck between a rock and a hard place.
    Maybe West Byron should have been zoned R4 Tourism or R3 to push all tourist and visitor accomodation into one zone?
    Yes it would be nice to not have holiday lets in R2 but that isn’t going to happen. And do you want to sacrifice our low density R2 zones and change them into medium density R3 zones! The NSW Planning Dept has us cornered with very little scope to work with ,our last mayor Jan Barham couldn’t get it sorted in her 2 terms .
    Having lived here for 50 years I have seen the demise of sand mining,meat works and whaling that provided employment (but glad to see gone) but now the main employment industry is tourism. Without tourists we would become a ghost shire.
    So as much as we hate holiday letting we need to work with what we have and allow our council to regulate and control it, it sure as hell ain’t going to pack its bag and leave!

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