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Lost council records

Toni Appleton, Goonengerry

Bede Cooney’s letter is right to question the editor’s claim about the loss of records. It was Lismore Council whose records were lost in a flood, and I can’t comment on whether any North Coast council ever lost records in a fire.

I have used the records search capacity at Byron Council many times, particularly in the last three decades and have never failed to get to the file I requested. Sometimes the information I needed was not on record simply because it was never lodged. This is really common when searching for Certificates of Occupation.

For me, by far the most problematic unauthorised dwellings occur on properties where different styles of accommodation are offered by (often absent) landowners who are running tourist facilities. Dwelling entitlement has morphed into business entitlement.

This accommodation would serve the community well if it embraced a sincere attempt to provide affordable housing instead of driving up the scarcity of desperately needed shelter.

Pathway 1 in the policy paper is straightforward – Development Approval can be sought. The problem is that ‘multi-unit’ housing is not allowable in the rural zones – only tourist cabins!

As far as single dwellings built in the ‘70s before the EPA, and into the ‘80s when the Low Cost Country Homebuilding Book was published by the NSW state government, the policy could allow for discretion in any single case so that buildings will not be demolished, and will not be required to meet current standards of the NCC (National Construction Code). There is more to this problem than a single sentence. Let’s continue the conversation.

Ed note: It was reported in The Echo that Byron Shire Council staff had told a representative of a New Brighton landholder when they were seeking historic plans on their property, that ‘no plans were available as they had been lost during either a flood or fire’. It has also been noted that Council has confirmed with another landowner that some files transferred onto microfiche were lost when the microfiche went mouldy.


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