18.7 C
Byron Shire
March 4, 2021

Unauthorised Dwellings Policy

Latest News

Missing teen – Tweed Heads

Police are appealing for public assistance to locate a boy reported missing from Tweed Heads.

Other News

The amazing world of seeds

Hilary Bain If it wasn’t for seeds and plants, we humans, along with all the animals, birds and insects would...

Lennox Rise development clears another hurdle

The massive new residential development planned west of Epiq in Lennox Head continued its progress towards becoming reality at the last Ballina Shire Council meeting.

Ministers misbehave

Keith Duncan, Pimlico Accusations of appalling behaviour by the Liberal Party in covering up misdeeds within its ranks just keep...

Bangalow blackspot puts school children at risk

Will action ever be taken to protect school kids getting on and off the bus on Lismore Road, Bangalow as trucks fly by at 80km/h?

Ballina Dragon Boaters win world championships

Shelley Cornish from Tintenbar has won two gold medals in the world indoor rowing championships as well as a world record time, while husband Paul Hurley chimed in with a silver medal.

Cartoon of the week – 3 March, 2021

We love to receive letters, but not every letter will be published; the publication of letters is at the discretion of the online and print letters editors.

Matthew Lambourne, Mullumbimby

The Unauthorised Dwellings Policy (the Policy) appears to be based narrowly on planning issues, and does not take into account other Council policies, the current economic situation, and the extreme shortage of and high cost of rental housing in the area.

The Byron Shire Rural Land Use Strategy 2017 states that any policy for unauthorised rural dwellings should be ‘adopting a holistic approach… including the larger picture of housing affordability across the Shire’ and should be ‘developed in consultation with the NSW Housing and Community services and other housing support service organisations.’

The Policy is likely to particularly affect rural rental housing, and could make possibly hundreds of people homeless unless it recognises and makes allowance for this, perhaps by including a moratorium on enforcement action until the current tenancy ends, up to, say, five years.

The COVID-19 pandemic, and the resulting perhaps several years of recession, will make it very difficult for many people to bring their dwellings up to Council’s requirements. A grace period of ten years should be allowed for dwellings that comply with realistic health, safety, and environmental requirements to be brought up to standard by way of an agreed compliance schedule.

The exhibited Policy refers to ‘Enforcement action’ being ‘Orders to demolish/restore to previously approved use’, but Council’s Enforcement Policy 2016 makes it clear, in Sections 4.14, 4.15, and 4.16, that Council has considerable discretion in what enforcement action it takes. In Section 4.15 the Enforcement Policy states that ‘Council will have regard to the impact the unauthorised activity is causing on amenity or harm to the environment’ and that ‘Council will… ensure the action is not disproportionate to the level of harm or damage arising from the unauthorised activity.’ In some cases, the appropriate enforcement action may be to take no action, and this range of responses should be made clear in the Policy.

The intention of the Policy is to encourage people with unauthorised dwellings to come forward, but the exhibited Policy is more likely to encourage people to run and hide. The exhibited policy should be scrapped, and a realistic, rational, and compassionate policy developed that takes into account the issues I have raised and spells out the pathways to regularisation in language easily understood by people who are not familiar with planning legislation and policies.

Previous articleGold Coast coming
Next articleEroding Byron

Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


  1. I applaud your call for realism, rationality, compassion and plain English.
    All aspiring politicians at all levels of government would do well to bear that in mind when seeking election.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Forum to address housing emergency, March 8

A grassroots movement is bringing women, community and art together on International Women’s Day (March 8) in an urgent push to solve the local housing emergency. 

Bangalow blackspot puts school children at risk

Will action ever be taken to protect school kids getting on and off the bus on Lismore Road, Bangalow as trucks fly by at 80km/h?

Lifting the lid on plans to build a retirement village in Ewingsdale

The letter sent to the residents of Ewingsdale last year by holiday park owner Ingenia seemed fairly innocuous at first glance...

Byron’s new road: the good and not so

After more than 30 years of talk, debate, disagreements, tears and political gridlock, Byron Bay has a new road to divert traffic from the CBD to the southern end of town.