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Byron Shire
January 30, 2023

Lilac house bound by red tape

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Nicole Haberecht’s house colour is incompatible with NSW and Council heritage conservation policy. Photo supplied.

Ross Kendall

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.’

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  1. I’m sure lilac was a ‘heritage’ colour at some time in history.
    Beige is such a boring colour. Even heritage beige.

  2. It’s such a beautiful colour! Why are humans so concerned with keeping such irrelevant things from our past in our present and future?
    It’s just paint on a bloody building, it’s not like the footprint of the house has changed. The world won’t stop turning, but that shade might at least make it feel brighter!

    • This home is adorable, clean, tidy and not an eyesore. Council should be getting on top of homes that look like junkyards or would fall down if someone sneezed. So many beautiful homes have gone to pooh around here. It use to be a beautiful drive looking at lovely gardens and lawns. Now, you see junkyard over grown grass, unkempt gardens and fences falling down. I don’t get the council’s complaints. This color was ‘ the it and a bit way back’.

  3. I can recommend a dismal shade of dark grey. This has several advantages including not being an unacceptable colour in the eyes of the council, and also being widely available at paint and hardware stores because nearly everyone uses it for exterior walls.

  4. A heritage colour is one consistent with the era of the building and maintaining heritage isn’t about personal reactions to a particular colour – perhaps because that’s so subjective?

    But it’s a pity for this owner that this case didn’t get to a Council meeting. Unless my memory is playing tricks I seem to recall a Council discussion on a shade of yellow, used in a heritage overlay area, where what carried the day seemed to be the personal tastes.

    But looking at the hideous juxtaposition of the new bus interchange with the old station area I don’t think heritage values are held in much regard.

  5. I agree Lilac is fine on the interior if she loves the colour. But not a good choice for the exterior, it’s very out of place, in the area her home is situated in Mullumbimby.

  6. Does this mean council will be issuing notices to all the black and dark grey weatherboards that have popped up everywhere? I don’t think those colours are heritage…

  7. this is the most unreasonable ridiculous demand from council ever. Would they prefer Baby Poo and Mission Brown..? Or the disgusting Green and Cream combo..? Or worse still Indian Red..? All heritage colour combos. All bad. Hey…but what would I know…I painted mine Black.

    • Hi john thank you so much. When I bought her she was baby poo brown with Indian red trim. Not me. The fence was raw. The front garden dead. I brought her to life and everyone I’ve spoken too. Thank you

  8. This is a salutary warning against allowing these pedantic, pompous parasites to take over council. Though having no insight or capacity, they strive to harass in order to justify their miserable existence . Heritage my a$$$$, its just paint and to my mind is in perfect harmony with the period. If the council took this attitude to me, I would retaliate with rainbows and huge sunflowers. Cheers, G”)

  9. Where are we going Australia ? What are we becoming ?
    This takes the cake for bureaucratic power tripping.
    Stick to your guns Nicole, the house looks great.

  10. The house was run down and a dirty looking shade of cream and brown before the current owner cleaned it up with paint. It’s now well maintained & a credit to the new owner.

    The house may well be in a heritage zoned area where that dictates colour schemes but I can see other homes located in the same area that are not painted in supposed heritage colours so surely a precedent has already been set for an outlier positioned on the edge to exist in harmony amongst the others. Would not that position be more in line with the history & heritage of Mullums past & future ie; a town that prides itself on standing out from the crowd & doing things a little differently to the rest. After all isn’t that why many of us chose to live here!

  11. Phooey! I heard that a few years back Council allowed a much worse trespass of a heritage area of Mullumbimby by permitting a developer, under the guise of “affordable” housing, to tear down an existing dwelling and build several unappealing studios. No provision of parking was necessary, the number of units crammed onto the block were certainly not in character with the rest of the heritage neighbourhood and they were listed at an unaffordable high rental. I suppose with housing being as scarce as it is now; those units are now rented.
    Irregardless of what the heritage rules on colour are… the soft lilac exterior of Ms Haberecht’s house is no where near as offensive as the outcome of that particular redevelopment.

  12. This house looks beautiful and the garden blends in. Not sure what Byron Shire is on about. This is a typical response from Byron Shire.

  13. BSC don’t be ridiculous. Every grandma loves lilac! What is non heritage about lilac. Really! This is preposterous. Drop the charge – everyone LOVES this transformation.

  14. A heritage listed building I have heard of but a heritage area what a load of shite, love the purplelicous. I am sure someone can find an old purple house

  15. Scientifically, purple is not a color because there is no beam of pure light that looks purple. There is no light wavelength that corresponds to purple. We see purple because the human eye can’t tell what’s really going on…might be angle ? 😅

  16. Everywhere in this Byron Shire is so shabby looking – roads massively potholed or poorly repaired, public parks unmown, muddy and unmaintained, gutters blocked or overflowing. And yet we have paid staff prioritising the harassment of a resident over the colour of her house. If you’re in Tweed or Ballina Shires – take a look at the contrast with our scruffy and neglected Byron Shire. Not a single pothole and parks beautifully maintained and a pleasure to use. Leave people alone Byron Shire and take care of your core responsibilities! Nicole’s house looks beautiful and cared for – and isn’t that enough for you? Heritage colours are so very dreary.

  17. Haaa yeah council want a DA yeah because that’s more money they make just for a piece of paper. Joke. Tell them to piss off. What’s is this country turning into where you need permission to paint your own house or fence. Next it will be your car. 😂😂😂😂😂😂.

  18. How is fining you going to remedy the situation? These bureaucratic numb-nuts are just angry that you didn’t go through the endless ‘dog through hoops’ charade that justifies their positions! You are being made an example of…. Did your painter also get a fine? If you did, he should have too… For not warning you. If you start a go fund me for your fine and repaint or suit against council, I will happily chip-in!

  19. Excuse me, are we in Australia or behind the old Iron Curtain, where individuality is a crime & everyone has to conform along Communist party lines? I can’t believe the audacity of Byron Shire Council bureaucrats! Heritage! What would they know about preserving heritage – whether the built environment or the natural? Stick to your guns, Nicole, you’ve done a wonderful job!

  20. Nicole your house is beautiful in fact l like it so much l am inspired to paint my house in murwillumbah the same colour.
    Im sorry you are being harrased by the ignorant blind council who can not obviously see how uplifting and lovely it is.
    Don’t pay them a cent and keep making the community a lovelier place to live in.

  21. When I saw the photo I thought how pretty it looked and how nice the garden was then read the ridiculus story. Stick to your guns Nicole and shame on the Council.

  22. Lilac is definitely not my thing, but Byron shire is really on a mission to alienate the public with this one. Given the shire councils long and dubious history, this behaviour might bring some unfortunate Karma to bear. Lighten up Byron shire.

  23. What a bureaucrat has to do to justifying their existence utterly astounds me.

    from Baby Poo with Red trim to Purplicious with matching front garden flowers, what’s there not to love?
    please think about an online petition and post the link!

  24. For god’s sake – what else is there a law against! Stand up for your rights people – before it is too late.

    good luck with the petition.

    Fay Williams

  25. Hi Nicole, firstly let me say I love the house colour and gardens which I agree is very uplifting but at the end of the day you bought in a heritage conservation area and I’m to assume with that comes certain rules, guidelines and expectations for everyone- if they allow one person to deviate from those guidelines then it leaves it open for everyone to change things and the heritage is no longer conserved. I don’t think it is just about the colour of your house it’s the bigger picture that could affect other changes as a whole- I do hope you achieve an amicable outcome.

  26. It is a lovely refreshing colour. Yet Council does have a Heritage policy and strategy and it behoves anyone who lives in a heritage precinct to be aware of their obligation to “give a nod” to heritage and not do their own thing. While this lilac is pleasant enough, we did have another homeowner in a heritage precinct paint her house bright luminous canary yellow – so bright that in the afternoon sun it was blinding and could have caused cars to crash! It did cause the neighbour to sell up and move on because she was unable to use her back yard on any given afternoon, so great was the glare. We need a bit of common sense here and compromises can be had. The heritage palette is broad and so long as the colour complements the palette, there really is no problem. But if people just do their own thing in contravention of the heritage policy, then we might as well tear up the policy. Which is it to be? Tear up the policy, rewrite the policy, or just not bother about protecting heritage in our Shire??

  27. I would have thought the heritage of Nimbin is COLOUR🌈this is the stand out feature that has Nimbin on the map, and why people like me LOVE coming and seeing all the colour, not another place in Australia has this kind of heritage and I can’t encourage council enough to embrace your community’s individuality, because that beautiful colour that has your town stand out from the rest , is what brings people in to your community and brings their money to spend so council and town prospers.. council are foolish and entirely out of touch from what your towns all about and WELL known for ..💜🌈🥂✌️🌻 congratulations for embracing your communities culture, and standing up for and by that culture , 👏👏yoyr a champion 💜✌️🌻

  28. This lovely heritage house looks fine with a lovely front garden which compliments the house.
    Whilst I usually personally prefer everything to be traditional & be in heritage colours & if there are to be any extensions or additions. I think that this should be non-negotiable, HOWEVER, there are always exceptions to the rule which this house falls into that category. Also, some of my friend’s favourite colour is purple or lilac.
    I am tempted to say Bryon Shire Council really need to be looking into stopping overdevelopment & inappropriate development as opposed to chasing down & fining people just because they choose not to paint their house in a colour which does not conform (in their eyes) to the so-called heritage colours. Come on Bryon Shire Council please leave Nicole alone, she is obviously maintaining the house & garden in a great way!


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