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Byron Shire
December 3, 2021

Regulated rural weddings and events edge closer

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‘Pop-up’ wedding venues in the Bryon hinterland could become a permitted use under proposed changes to the LEP. Photo supplied

Hans Lovejoy

Weddings, events and function centres in Byron Shire’s rural areas could be soon regulated after councillors voted last Thursday to send their planning proposal to the state government for Gateway determination.

If approved, the Byron Local Environmental Plan (LEP) 2014 would be amended to ‘permit function centres in the RU2 Rural Landscape Zone with development consent and subject to appropriate controls relating to site suitability and management.’

Greens Cr Michael Lyon broke a deadlock between those in favour and against, after adopting mayor Simon Richardson’s motion to proceed.

Cr Basil Cameron opposed proceeding because ‘wedding function use and other uses [are] inconsistent with the zoning objectives for the RU2 zone as the proposed uses are not “associated with primary production and environmental conservation”.

And owing to the public feedback that was largely against the planning proposal, Cr Cameron sought to ‘Engage with community and the wedding industry to develop a “well managed and sustainable industry for all” that particularly examines existing facilities in zones with objectives that can accommodate weddings and other functions.’

Cr Lyon’s foreshadowed motion passed (Crs Coorey and Cameron voted against) and ensures ‘that all amplified music will cease no later than 8pm; and that all event attendees will be off site no later than 8.30pm.’

Originally, the mayor’s motion called for a 10pm curfew.

Under the proposal, function centres in the RU1 Primary Produce Zone will not be allowed.

Additionally, Council staff have been asked to ‘Investigate the possibility of implementing a registration system for approved rural function centres.’

During morning public access, Jane Magnus from the Byron Events Association supported the proposal, saying that management plans are needed.

But Matthew O’Reilly, aka Cleva, representing The Community Alliance for Byron Shire (CABS), spoke against. He said, ‘It’s disingenuous to say there is public support.’

‘This is only supported by those who want it. How will increasing events lower pressure on infrastructure?

‘This will add zero dollars [to Council’s finances]. You all know people are fed up with overdevelopment… [councillors] should defer this to get more prescriptive. In Tweed Shire, councillors made an amendment for water extraction. The community were against it, and then heaps of applications were lodged.’

During councillor debate, Greens Cr Sarah Ndiaye asked staff if there are fewer compliance problems in recent times. Director planning Shannon Burt replied yes, yet added that it could be owing to weddings being seasonal.

Cr Ndiaye also questioned where will wedding patrons go after 8pm. ‘Will they go to other venues? Isn’t this moving the problem?’

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  1. I have to take issue with a couple of things in your report, Hans. Firstly I think it’s a bit optimistic to suggest events in rural zones will soon be regulated. They are currently not permitted in these zones – what’s wrong with this regulation and Council enforcing it? How will they be better able to regulate these operators when there is suddenly a proliferation and diversification of them?

    Council will receive negligible ongoing income from these businesses to fund compliance and road maintenance because they will continue to pay rural rates and there is little else that can be extracted from them. Not a lot in the change for your ordinary ratepayer – a whole lot less for your average RU2 zone resident.

    There is also probably Buckley’s the 8.30 curfew will eventuate. Councillors in favour didn’t like this much at all but happily grasped Cr Lyon’s deal changer. As was conceded, the main aim was to get the proposed LEP change to the state government. Plenty of time later to sort out the details!

    There was a submission from the ‘events industry’ who want to foster the Jobson Growth potential. What I’d like to know is if this group has any members who currently operate from commercial zones, pay commercial rates and jump through the other hoops of registered businesses?

  2. Shame on the Greens for greenlighting this illegal and prohibited activity in RU2 rural zones. Large scale events such as commercially organized weddings in this zone is development without consent. The Greens say that they want to control the cowboys in the industry, but aren’t any wedding organisers ‘cowboys’ if they have been operating without approval and aware that what they are doing is illegal?

    Council Enforcement should ensure that they abide by the planning laws that they have to uphold and protect the residents who live in this zone. Prosecute all the crook cowboys until they get the message.

    The only councilors with any ethics are Basil Cameron and Cate Coorey.

    At the last Council election I voted for the Greens to protect the environment. YOU HAVE LET RESIDENTS DOWN. NEVER AGAIN.


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