Mullumbimby resident Nicole Haberecht is facing a $3,000 fine and the prospect of repainting her house after Council made a demand that she change the colour after it was painted a shade of lilac.
But Nicole is adamant she won’t be doing any of it.
‘I’m not paying the fine, I can‘ t afford to. This has been a very difficult time for me,’ she said.
‘I feel quite harassed because there are so many heavily coloured dwellings all around Mullumbimby’.
‘What negative impact am I having?’
She says, ‘I haven’t met one person who doesn’t like it. People stop me in the street and chat and remark how much they love it, and how it makes everyone feel happy.
‘People knock on my door and offer support as they’ve heard of the issues,’ she said.
Nicole also has over 20 signatures from neighbours on a petition supporting her colour choice.
‘Everyone I asked has signed it,’ she said. ‘And I have a local witness who says the house was a similar colour some years ago’.
It all seemed a lot easier when Nicole moved into the house in March last year.
Somewhere nice and peaceful
She believed she had found somewhere nice and peaceful to help her with her recovery from a workplace injury. Nicole set about making the house into her home, which included a professional exterior paint job worth $10,000.
She choose ‘purplicious’, a colour she felt expressed her personality and cheered up the whole neighbourhood.
But others had a different view. On the back of a complaint, the Byron Shire Council served Nicole with a ‘return to work’ order demanding she repaint the house.
‘They gave me the option of submitting a DA for the colour, but said there was no guarantee the order to repaint would be cancelled. So it was just another expense I couldn’t afford,’ she said.
The fine remains unpaid and has been passed onto Service NSW.
‘I lodged a review with Service NSW but that was denied. I have followed up with another review requesting further information. I am awaiting a response,’ she said.
‘I’ve had to put up with this since last July. It’s been very stressful and affected my health and injuries,’ she said.
Lilac house is in a heritage conservation area
Nicole’s house is in a heritage conservation area and therefore subject to NSW Government and Byron Shire Council controls designed to ensure the heritage values are retained and not lost. These controls include colours, a Council spokesperson said.
‘The Byron LEP 2014 provides that any change to the external appearance of a dwelling in a heritage conservation area requires development consent. Development consent was not obtained or sought before the painting occurred. Also, the existing lilac colour does not comply with the Non-Indigenous Heritage provisions of DCP 2014,’ the spokesperson said.
They added, ‘The owner was asked to repaint the building in a suitable heritage colour. Staff encouraged the owner to seek heritage funding to help with the cost of painting. There was no willingness to change the colour and therefore an infringement notice was issued.’