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Byron Shire
March 5, 2021

Compliance needs improving, says former councillor

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Yippee – councillors appear to be taking more interest in unauthorised building compliance, which is of course a core responsibility when it comes to liability and equity.

Yet former councillor Duncan Dey has told The Echo that his tip off of an unauthorised building was ignored by staff and he has witnessed instances where compliance is dropped in favour of encouraging DA approval in ‘poorly located’ areas.

Additionally, he says of a recent compliance report to councillors: ‘There is no report on the rate of success or satisfaction for the public raising the matter, or for those responding to it’. The data in the staff report implies all CRMs get dealt with, he says.

Council staff recently reminded residents about the ‘serious consequences of unlawful building works’ though a press release, claiming they had won a court case ‘concerning the conversion of a garage into a habitable dwelling without development consent’.

Dey provided two instances of questionable compliance investigations.

‘The cases I know of are about illegal dwellings that I complained about in 2016.

‘One was a shed that had been tarted up and rented.

‘It was bolted to a giant eucalyptus that started looking sick and could have dropped branches. “Lives at immediate risk” are top priority 1.1 on Council’s list. 

‘The dwelling was vacated after a Council order in June 2017 to return the building to its former shed status. Sadly, that order was later lifted after pleas by the owner and on the basis that a Development Application would be lodged to legalise that building, along with a second illegal dwelling on the property.

‘The DA was lodged in 2018 to legalise the second dwelling, as a dual occupancy. The DA ignored the shed. I do not understand why its return to a shed had to await the DA. This building should be decommissioned, independent of the outcome of the DA’.

Dual occupancy

‘The second ‘case’ is that second “dual occupancy” dwelling on the same property’. He says despite sending details and pictures and asking ‘Council to stop construction until approvals have been granted’, construction did not stop. ‘A DA now seeks to legalise the building, despite it being poorly located and non-compliant with bushfire requirements, among many other [potentially] fatal non-compliances’.

The Echo asked Council staff for comment on the matters, but they declined to comment.

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