Owner of the Mullumbimby Middle Pub, Brendan Lawless, has called on others who would be affected by Byron Shire Council’s proposed ‘air tax’ to resist revenue raising from balconies on commercial properties.
Under the proposal, Lawless says it would cost him nearly $22,000 a year to register his balcony, which was built in 1904. He says it’s something he cannot afford. ‘I actually love this Council; staff and the mayor do a fantastic job. But this hasn’t been well thought through – it’s a huge issue that may affect many properties.’
While the draft policy, available on Council’s website, does not contain estimated costings, letters were sent to property owners with an approximation of what they could expect to pay under the policy.
‘I got a letter in March saying Council were thinking about this, and then another while I was away to confirm it is going to the next stage. It’s all come as a complete shock.’
Lawless says that the policy is aimed at mostly heritage-style buildings, and could affect around 20-odd commercial properties in the Shire.
‘They appear to be assuming the cost on ground floor rates and applying them to balconies,’ he said. ‘There have been no charges payable for this before.’
Council have defined a ‘road airspace’ as ‘the encroachment that occurs where any part of a building projects beyond the lot boundaries on to the Council road reserve. It can include features such as balconies, verandahs, awnings, etc.’
Council claim a road airspace policy would streamline existing legislation and aims to ‘provide for approval arrangements for road airspace structures (eg balconies).’
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