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Byron Shire
June 23, 2024

Hinterland weddings – for better or for worse?

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Following community engagement sessions around proposed changes to Byron Shire Council policy around rural weddings, public submissions will close Friday April 13.

Council staff say that under current planning legislation, a commercial venue for weddings or events is defined as a Function Centre. In the rural zones, RU1 and RU2, Function Centres are prohibited.

‘Council has been aware of a number of rural sites operating as wedding venues without approval. In some cases, Council has issued notices and fines.’

‘In particular, noise and traffic associated with weddings and events can, if not well managed, result in adverse impacts on neighbours and the rural amenity.

‘Council would like to take a more active approach to rural weddings and events. Council is considering policy solutions to manage and control weddings and events within the rural zones, through planning controls.

‘An approvals process could introduce effective measures to ensure events do not cause adverse impacts on the neighbouring amenity. By permitting Function Centres in rural zones RU1 and RU2, Council could implement legislative provisions relating to site suitability and event management to ensure that rural events happen in suitable locations in ways that minimise local disturbance.’

For more info visit www.yoursaybyronshire.com.au/rural-weddings-and-event

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  1. Thanks to The Echo for letting us know that submissions have to be in by Friday 13 April. Odd, but when I attended one of the Council’s briefing sessions on this no mention was made of submissions.

    The Council’s pitch was that the LEP would be changed to permit these events and that all the mayor and staff wanted from the audience was to be forewarned of any objections.

    It’s beyond me how, if Council cannot police events that are not allowed under the existing LEP, it expects to control such gatherings after they have been authorised.

    I, and my neighbours, appreciate rural Byron shire for it’s beauty and tranquillity and Council should not expect us to sacrifice this so that our commercially minded neighbours can run function centres.

    • It is hard to understand why the council is pursuing a policy that is so obviously detrimental to its ratepayers in rural areas and to the environment.

      At the moment there is good money to be made from rural weddings but this precisely because they are a rare commodity. If the council allows numerous wedding venues prices will fall and we will have sold our peaceful, unique environment all too cheaply.

      Byron Council why do you want to fill our weekends with the thud-thud of PA systems and yelping drunks rather than the tranquil sound of the wind in the trees, birdsong and koalas? It is not possible to have both. If you side with developers and get rich quick merchants it will be at the expense of local people and the environment.

  2. Just trust us, we’ll change the LEP and put regulations in place that ‘minimise’ local disturbance. Tellingly it’s’minimise’ rather than ‘prevent’.

    The following is from Council’s Regulation and Enforcement Policy:
    ” Risk Based Approach

    … From time to time complaints will exceed available resources. Our Regulation and Enforcement Division uses a risk based resource allocation approach so that we can focus resources on matters that represent the biggest risk to the community and the environment. ”

    Weddings usually take place on a Saturday. How much priority will be given to an 11.00 pm call? Good luck also with getting any response in work hours to your loss of amenity. Apart from the onus of proof being on you, you have to convince Council that it’s a big enough ‘priority’ to worry about.

    Council’s response seems to suggest that problems exist now because the activities are illegal. Conversely, if they have approval Council will be more able to ensure they are ‘well managed’. Pigs might fly! If you can’t enforce an illegality, why can you suddenly enforce ‘legislative provisions relating to … event management’?

    I hope approvals for these function centres will come with a hefty annual fee if the Shire is to be compensated in some way for the extra demands on compliance staff, the extra demands placed on services and infrastructure from all the guests staying before and after in Air BnBs. Regardless I’d suggest it’s time to start moving off the farms just as the residents are moving out of Byron.

  3. The concepts of weddings in RU1 and RU2 Zones is a result of lobying from the official catering companies as the accommodation industry is now in such a mess with so many illegal ( no insurance,no fire safety,no point of contact, no extra rates, comensurate with approved businesses) that people rent large houses for five nights then bring in their own caterers music and buy the frog…. whoa cheap wedding.
    Isn’t it about time our council fixed up what is illegal rather than change the LEP for commercial gain when those that do the right things by Council in Accommodation have to compete with illegal operators.
    Level playing fields first Council for all. There is so much illegal accommodation that anyone atbanytime can stay and find accommodation…. do the legal operators get a ratecrefund ? It’s a mess and now the rural commerce side of development is being implemented instead of protecting farming and producing edibles rather than money.

  4. True that! If there are wedding venue approvals for urban areas there must be approval for the rural areas also so that they can celebrate all their functions in a planned way that does not disturb the community and law!

  5. I really don’t understand why Council even have an Local Environment Plan or rules governing the uses of land in the Shire.
    They spend their whole time trying to change the plan and make amendments to it ……and if you have non approved development they just change the LEP to accommodate it.
    May as well open it up to a free for all…..at least that way it’s fair for all.

  6. Excellent appraisal Vicki. Council is just not prepared to do the job it is appointed to do. Forget the potholes as all of Council’s financial resources will be needed to defend legal action which will inevitably follow in reliance on case law and over riding legislation.


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