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Byron Shire
January 30, 2023

Byron Shire Council’s illegal dwelling policy scant on detail

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It might be small, but many people in the Byron Shire rent out their garages for extra income. Photo https://commons.wikimedia.org.

Aslan Shand

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.’

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  1. Community Action Byron Shire (CABS) spokesperson, and former councillor, Duncan Dey, speaks out against Byron Shire Council’s Draft Unauthorised Dwelling Policy that comes to Council this week.

    The Council agenda states that staff have recommended the use of the word ‘dwelling’ rather than ‘residential accommodation’ as the ‘definition is less open to interpretation’.

    The meaning of the word “dwell” is to live in a specified place. That means a permanent living address.
    The word “accommodation” means that accommodation is transient and temporary.

  2. Some streets in Byron baywood and sunrise are checkers. The average garage is either a bedroom or two, a studio or a gym or a yoga studio. Cash in hand.
    Greed without limits.
    Finding a park is harder than in Sydney CBD.
    No sense of community at all. Just on paper

  3. Each case should be judged on its merits not on the general blanket decisions made by council employees with no effort of conciliation as how to work together to see how the problems found can be fixed or what additional work to remedy the situation can be carried out.
    Unfair complaints by anonymous
    Sources should be thoroughly investigated and mediation be sought by council between the two parties. Where is the humanity in demolishing a family home before all avenues are investigated and proven. Every one is scared of the council just rember they work and get paid by us the rate payers. In these troubled times we should show compassion for each other.
    [email protected] j

  4. Illegal dwellings now using DA to approve and add another property without consideration to the community and traffic, many matters raised by residents although a DA for a single dwelling shed and small extension Byron council will not approve.
    Causing owner hunderds of thousand dollars to go via legal avenues.
    disgusting Byron council should be ashamed.


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