A change to a crucial definition in the Byron Shire Council’s Draft Unauthorised Dwelling Policy that comes to Council this week has been criticised by Community Action Byron Shire (CABS) spokesperson, Duncan Dey.
Staff say in the agenda that they have recommended the use of ‘dwelling’ rather than ‘residential accommodation’ as the ‘definition is less open to interpretation’.
‘The impact of this change will be to exclude action on urban trends like housing people in garages,’ says Mr Dey. ‘Whole dwellings are the usual rural infraction, whereas unauthorised rooms is more of an urban one. The proposal for this Thursday’s Council meeting will have less impact than Council previously resolved.’
The policy is scant on detail, giving neither those in illegal dwellings assurances of approval, nor their neighbours reason to believe Council will be enforcing appropriate regulations.
‘The Policy statement has to consider amenity of the neighbourhood and serviceability by emergency services (SES, RFS) in addition to more mechanical considerations like whether an on-site sewage system can be built,’ Mr Dey told The Echo.
‘There should be no allowance for exceeding prescriptive measures like building height etc, just because the building is already there.’
Mr Dey highlighted that the 15 month moratorium gives unauthorised projects the opportunity to be completed before approaching Council for inclusion, if there is no record that the work was completed by 18 June.
‘Behind this approach is the philosophy that every few years Council will invite illegals to become legal. The last moratorium was in the naughties.
‘A fundamental element in this system has to be that development by stealth (build first and seek forgiveness) has to be more expensive than the normal planning pathway.’