With plans for short-term rental accommodation (STRA) now open for comment until January 30, a local residents group is urging support for a 90 day cap across all residential zones.
Council proposes that for most of the Shire, it will become permissible to holiday let homes for up to 90 days per year. Holiday letting for 365 days a year is proposed for beachfront areas of Byron Bay, most of Belongil, and all of Wategos.
If approved by the state government, a new definition of short-term rental accommodation will be inserted into the LEP 2014 dictionary.
Victims Of Holiday Letting (VOHL) convenor Doug Luke says, ‘Byron Shire is sinking under the highest number of Airbnbs per head of population of any location in the world. Council estimates forty per cent of all houses in Byron Bay, and eighteen per cent of all houses in the Shire [are Airbnb let]. The numbers have grown 13.5 per cent in the last year’.
Luke says the NSW government has invited Council to apply for a 90 day cap for STRA in most residential zones. ‘If you do not want a holiday let next to you for 365 days a year, then VOHL urges all residents to use the interactive mapping to make a choice, fill out a few questions and make a submission.
‘Our preferred position, for over ten years, has always been that planning law should be applied by Council to all STRA in Residential Zones where it is still a prohibited and illegal activity without development consent. However, VOHL has taken the pragmatic position, and supports the 90 day cap.’
VOHL argues that it would be much fairer for the 90 day cap to be applied equally across the Shire without exception for so called ‘tourist hotspots,’ where there are still a large number of permanent residents living.
‘The Shire’s approved B and B operators have complied with a very detailed DA process requiring considerable fees and charges. Holiday let owners applying for a DA should follow a similar process for the sake of fairness and safety.
‘VOHL agrees with the draft planning controls, particularly the proposed Council organised Registration Scheme. This aligns with the NSW Local Government Association’s position. In contrast, the NSW Coalition government’s position that registration should be organised by the STRA industry is akin to putting the fox in charge of the henhouse.’
‘For registration, Council will need to check that the number of bedrooms listed abides by the current DA. VOHL is aware of illegal conversions into extra bedrooms.
‘The NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) has advised that STRA owners would need to purchase public liability insurance for Registration. VOHL suggests that a minimum of $20 million cover would be appropriate.
‘VOHL agrees that all STRA will need to comply with fire safety standards under the Building Code of Australia and The Environmental Protection & Assessment Act 1979 regulations.
‘The DPIE said that all STRA would require hard-wired smoke detectors in every bedroom and hallway, and, exit lighting. Council has stated that non-hosted STRA on bush fire and flood prone land will require development consent.
‘The DPIE has said that an STRA on bush fire prone land with a Bushfire Attack Level of 40 or Flame Zone is unlikely to receive development consent. The Rural Fire Service advised that the safety risks are too high’.
The website address is www.yoursaybyronshire.com.au/holiday-letting.