The NSW Planning Department has hit back at suggestions that it has obstructed Byron Council’s attempt to limit short-term holiday letting in the Shire.
Council staff have been engaged in protracted negotiations with Department officers over the introduction of a 90-day cap on non-hosted holiday letting, since the NSW planning minister promised this to the Shire in July 2019.
The government has now refused to extend the amount of time given to the Council and the Planning Department to finalise the Byron-specific policy.
This means that, as of January 31 next year, the Shire will come under the same rules as the rest of the State, under which un-hosted holiday letting can take place for up to 180 days of the year.
This blanket policy will continue to apply in the Shire unless, and until, Byron Council can find a way through the bureaucratic mire.
At Byron Council’s November meeting, Byron Council’s Director of Sustainable Environment and Economy, Shannon Burt, said the Council had called on the Department to ‘respect proper process, the ministerial direction, and the resolutions of Council, and permit a finalisation of our planning proposal’.
‘There’s nothing neat and expeditious about the incursion of un-hosted, investor-led holiday letting… or the opportunistic seasonal holiday letting of second homes now prevalent in the Byron Shire,’ Ms Burt said.
When The Echo put it to the Department that its officers had obstructed rather than facilitated the process of developing a holiday letting policy for the Byron Shire, a spokesperson strongly denied that this was the case.
‘That assertion is wrong,’ the spokesperson said.
‘We have provided Council with support, advice, time extensions, and funding to help it prepare a planning proposal that would limit non-hosted short-term rental accommodation in parts of their area.
‘If the proposal is not finalised by January 31, 2022, short-term rental accommodation in Byron Shire will be limited to 180 days where the owner does not live on the property.’
It is the Department’s position that the Ministerial Direction did not guarantee a 90-day limit would be imposed.
Back in 2019, then Planning Minister, Anthony Roberts, made the following comment: ‘I am satisfied that there are exceptional circumstances in Byron Shire, and have decided to issue a Ministerial Direction which invites Byron Shire to lead the way by proposing 90-day thresholds in [its] most impacted towns’.