NSW govt puts holiday-letting policy on hold

Paying for touristsThe NSW planning department have deferred Byron’s holiday-letting strategy until the government releases its own options paper on the issue.

According to a letter sent to Council’s general manager (GM) Ken Gainger by the department on May 16 this year, that paper is to be released ‘in the near future.’

Council’s push for action comes from the absence of a statewide strategy to address holiday letting; a proposal by Council for its own short-term rental accommodation (STRA) policy was tabled in 2014.

Planning Services executive director (regions) Stephen Murray said in the letter – which is contained within the upcoming September 21 Council agenda – that the-yet-to-be-released paper follows a parliamentary inquiry into short-term holiday-letting strategy.

Mr Murray said that while the issue is ‘important for Council and the Byron community… it is equally important across many other parts of NSW and therefore any regulatory provisions must be carefully considered and consistent across the state.’   

At this Thursday’s Council meeting, Greens Cr Michael Lyon will call on fellow councillors to ‘not proceed to enable Council time to reconsider and resubmit a more detailed and well-thought-through planning proposal following the outcome of the state government’s consideration of the Short Term Holiday Letting in NSW options paper.’

He writes in the agenda, ‘As our experience thus far in attempting to regulate STRA through our planning instrument shows, this is a landscape that is constantly shifting. With the NSW government’s release of their options paper and therefore imminent decision on a potentially statewide approach to regulating STRA, it does not make sense to continue with our planning proposal in its current form when we do not know how it may interact with the NSW government’s finalised approach.

‘It is noted that an option to continue with the current situation, that is with the power for individual councils to choose how to best regulate STRA in their local government areas, including the ability to amend their own LEPs as they see fit with the support of the minister for planning, is absent from the options paper.’

Staff reply

Within the agenda, director Sustainable Environment and Economy Shannon Burt said, ‘Council staff are not of the opinion that a standard statewide approach to this issue will be acceptable or appropriate to Byron Shire, given our circumstances [compared] to those of other local government areas in NSW in relation to short-term rental accommodation (holiday let).’ Ms Burt explained extensively in her reply how Council had received a ‘gateway determination’ for council’s plans from the government on August 31, 2015.

Community group Neighbours Not Strangers maintains that ‘consistent and repeated judgments from the NSW Land and Environment Court find that mixing short-term tourist/visitor rentals with permanent residents is “fundamentally incompatible”.’

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