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Byron Shire
February 3, 2023

Resident groups split over unauthorised dwelling policy

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Aslan Shand

With Council extending public submissions  by one week for landowners to respond to the draft Unauthorised Dwelling Policy, resident groups appear to be divided on the issue.

‘The policy will be applicable to every dwelling in the Shire, rural and urban’, councillor Michael Lyon told The Echo.

Resident and progress associations across Byron Shire’s urban areas say that there has not been much, if any, interest or concern expressed by residents regarding the policy.

Yet Matthew O’Reilly, President of Community Action Byron Shire (CABS), says there is a big split in the community over it. ‘We’ve had hours of debate on this issue at CABS meetings in the last two months. There is no consensus on it within CABS as some groups think it is a good policy, and some don’t,’ Mr O’Reilly told The Echo.

‘On the one hand, there is the inability of the current rate base to meet the infrastructure maintenance and development costs. There is a feeling among some groups that if a lot of unauthorised developments had paid their development fees, then maybe a lot of the infrastructure backlogs, like bad roads etc, would not be as bad.

‘There is a sense that some unauthorised dwellings, not all of them, are taking advantage of the community by not paying their development contributions.

‘On the other hand, there is a legitimate argument that where there are dwellings that have been in place since the 70s and mid-1980s that these should be given an amnesty. Essentially, that any dwelling prior to 1988, when the first Byron LEP (1988) was gazetted, should be given an amnesty. The focus should be on all buildings built since 1988’.

Make a submission

A rumours swirl of landowners kicking people out of possibly unauthorised development throughout the shire Councillor Cate Coorey has reminded landowners that the moratorium is in place ‘until June next year’.

‘There is no reason why they should’ve been thrown out of their home,’ she said pointing out that this would only happen if the building could not be brought up to a required compliance standard.’

Councillor Michael Lyon meanwhile said, ‘I would urge residents from all areas in the Shire who wish to have input into the policy to submit their comments, feedback and suggestions in time for Council to consider them as part of the formulation of the policy’.

While the focus has been on the potential impact of the policy in Main Arm as a result of Council staff sending out 34 roboletters to landowners in that area, president of Main Arm Rural Resident Association (MARRA) Duncan Dey said, ‘I urge dwellers in all areas to look at the MARRA website for advice on submissions’.

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