19.4 C
Byron Shire
December 5, 2021

Unauthorised dwellings policy shelved, for now

Latest News

Cadwallader, Lyon and Krieg most likely new Far North Coast mayors

With most of the votes cast, and counting over until tomorrow, the New South Wales Electoral Commission stats would suggest that there are three clear winners of the mayoral contests in Ballina, Byron and Lismore Shires.

Other News

Why not both

The tender for the first section of the Rail Trail starting from Murwillumbah indicates that it is not more...

Aussies got drunk more than any other country during the pandemic (are we surprised?)

The Global Drug Survey 2021 reveals that Australians got drunk the most during 2020 and that drug and alcohol habits changed during the pandemic.

Byron candidates 2021 Q&A part 2

Buckle in, seats upright, and loosen the belt!  It’s time to see what candidates have to say – in full...

Fake Greens

This is a strange election. Michael Lyon, Jeanette Martin (and retired Simon Richardson) all rode the Greens ticket to get...

World record-breaking sailor takes out SCU’s Alumnus of the Year Award

If you’re seeking a bit of inspiration in your life, look no further than Southern Cross University’s Alumnus of the Year, Lisa Blair.

A disappointed dog

It’s taken a whole week for my dog to read to page 21 in last week’s Echo. She’s been...

Byron Council’s Draft Unauthorised Dwelling Policy received almost unanimous support from councillors when it was abruptly brought into existence around 18 months ago.

Last week, the same councillors voted to consign the document to the bottom drawer, and two of them offered conditional apologies to those who were affected.

But it would not be accurate to say that our elected representatives accepted responsibility for the failed policy.

Greens Byron Shire councillor Sarah Ndiaye is the new deputy mayor. PHOTO: Tree-faerie

Council staff blamed

Instead, the blame for what happened was placed firmly at the feet of Council staff.

‘I apologise that it was misinterpreted by staff,’ said Councillor Sarah Ndiaye (Greens).

‘That was never my intention.’

‘It [the policy] came out of a genuine desire to address the ongoing stress that we were seeing in Council in relation to unauthorised dwellings.’

It was Cr Ndiaye who moved the motion to develop the Draft Policy by tacking it onto a development application for a property in Skinners Shoot.

With all councillors, except Cr Michael Lyon (then Greens, now Independent) having voted for the Draft Policy, staff fired off a salvo of letters to a group of Main Arm residents who they believed were living in unauthorised dwellings.

This was prior to any detailed investigation having been done into the individual dwellings involved, or any public consultation.

Councillors not told

Councillors say it was also done without their knowledge, and that they would not have agreed to the move had they been told.

‘What got sent out… none of us were aware that that was going to be sent out… not to that area of the community,’ Cr Ndiaye said.

The letters caused considerable stress, anxiety and anger among those on the receiving end.

Some feared that they would be kicked out of their homes and be unable to find a replacement, owing to the ongoing housing crisis.

A little of that angst was reflected in the responses to the public consultation process conducted by Council months after the letters were sent out, which were almost uniformly against the proposal.

Having received this community feedback, staff recommended to councillors at last week’s meeting that the policy be converted to a ‘guideline’ document for internal use by staff for investigations initiated by complaints and owner-initiated actions.

This was unanimously supported by councillors, and thus the policy finally fell.

However, councillors stopped short of abandoning the policy completely, as requested by the former President of the Main Arm Resident’s Association (MARA), and Greens Mayoral candidate, Duncan Dey.

Mr Dey said, ‘If this is to be put into staff procedures… then Council should ask for a report from staff first.’

Mr Dey also asked councillors to ‘please apologise to people.’

‘It’s not blaming yourselves for what happened, but it would be great to acknowledge that it did happen, so that people can rest assured that their Council represents them,’ he said.

Cr Ndiaye acknowledged the ‘stress and frustration’ that the policy caused.

She then went on to defend it.

‘There was that great concern at the time that we were liable,’ she said.

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. So what now for those of us who are negatively impacted by ongoing illegal developments ?
    And why do we need a ‘policy’ ?
    Why can’t compliance officers act on the laws that are in place ?
    Yet again, those like me who have done the right thing re compliance and are paying their rates and contributions, are left to battle with those who are taking advantage of Council’s atrocious ‘do nothing’ stance. Unbelievable !
    Thanks for nothing Council and Councillors ! You are all pathetic !

  2. Now we know why Where’s Duncan hides so much .

    Mr Dey said, ‘If this is to be put into staff procedures… then Council should ask for a report from staff first.’

    Mr Dey also asked councillors to ‘please apologise to people.’

    Then his fellow GREENS Candidate who was acting GREENS Mayor when this occurred said …

    Cr Ndiaye acknowledged the ‘stress and frustration’ that the policy caused.
    She then went on to defend it.

    ‘There was that great concern at the time that we were liable,’ she said.

    Does DUNCAN have a clue which Party he is heading in this forth coming Election
    Are there TWO Green’s Party’s in the running ?

    What a shambles from a shambolic lot of Luddites !

  3. Seems they shouldn’t shelve it, or bare minimum need to make sure all those illegal dwellings are safe for habitation. Rotten timing with an election coming up.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Growing number of dogs

Thanks to Alison Drover for her informative article in last week’s Echo regarding the growing number of dogs in the Shire to be managed...

Responsible dog owner

I read with interest Alison Drover’s article on dog management and the follow up letters last week, and I couldn’t agree more. I am indifferent...

Dogs need control

I agree with Alison Drover’s recent article and her final line ‘wildlife needs more love, and our dog owners need a tighter lead’. But the...

COVID update December 3: One new case and advice for international travellers

One new case of COVID-19 was reported for Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSWLHD) in the 24 hours to 8pm 2 December. Northern NSW Local...