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January 21, 2022

Obstruction claims over holiday letting rejected by Planning Dept

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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.’

No guarantee

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’.


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8 COMMENTS

  1. The Department is right. The offer to give further consideration was subject to a time limit and conditional on there being sufficient merit to change law now enacted, and the willingness of NSW Parliament to amend legislation so that it would have unequal application.

    • Counci has until June 24, 2022, to finalise all work. A definitive answer is still not available. Amending to a 90 day cap is done by the Planning Minister through a SEPP amendment without a vote from members of State Parliament.

  2. The Ministerial Directive made by former Planning Minister Anthony Robert in February 2019 ( not July 2019 as stated in the article) was a blatant pork barrel election lie in an attempt to get Ben Franklin elected.

    The directives that were set by him for Council were impossible to achieve and Council was bound to fail. I examined the questions posed to STRA owners in the Economic Impact Assessment designed by Urbis. They were biased and all STRA owners were bound to say that reducing the number of days to 90 would have a detrimental impact on their earnings. Urbis used a computer program that allowed multiple responses . They should have used a program where the IP address was recorded and disallowed any further attempts to answer the survey.

    Byron Shire will have a 180 day cap from January 31, 2022. this is the same as Greater Sydney, including the Central Coast, and the LGA’s of Dubbo, Ballina. Bega, Newcastle and certain areas of Muswellbrook and the Clarence Valley. The rest of the state will be 365 days.

  3. Why is byron as always so entitled to have different rules to other places. Getting rid of air bnb is not going to make affordable housing/rentals. You are kidding yourselves. There is no affordable housing in byron as there is not in kingscliff, manly , Noosa, bondi, and any other tourist destination Of which byron is one.
    These houses that rent for 10k+ per week are not coming on to the market as affordable rentals or for sale to first home owners.
    Just a simple equation.amongst other issues Consecutive green councils opposing any development has led to a supply demand situation we have now. Which equates to high prices. If you want to live in a paradise it costs.

    They had the opportunity to develop a world class eco/sustainable living space at west byron but no. Not smart enough to negotiate.
    Rather than blaming everyone else come up with some forward thinking ideas on housing.

    And before you start about locals etc……. who sold all these High priced places to These newcomers. Locals ! And at a pretty good price.

    Maybe time to find another byron.
    Don’t know many other places that have stayed the same for the last 50 years. Not that you’d want to live in anyway.

    Sama sama
    Larry

  4. Larry makes some good points. Introduction of a 90 or 180 day cap on STRA will do little to change the availability of affordable long term accommodation in Byron so the suggestion that it will significantly improve this problem is misleading. Housing is expensive in all popular areas so the truth is that those who want more affordable accommodation will have to look elsewhere; let’s not pretend otherwise. Increased housing supply would help but, understandably, most Byron residents don’t want that for environmental and other reasons so expensive housing is here to stay.

  5. I became part of a conversation with two young people at a supermarket check-out. No I didn’t butt in – it happened when one apologised to me for an audible obscenity. (Well 🤬 me, as if I hadn’t heard it before! ) he was explaining how, with a heavy heart, he was giving up on the area and moving on. Both were talking about how hard it is being thrown out of rentals at short notice, then the impossibility of finding somewhere else affordable within a reasonable distance from work.

    It’s far from my first conversation with people forced out including people in my street.

    Holiday rentals aren’t the full picture but, in Byron Shire, they are a much larger than average percentage of the total housing stock and the potential returns drive up prices of both rents and sales.

    It’s one thing to say paradise is expensive – get over it! – even paradise needs supermarkets, pharmacies, hardware stores, schools, medical services and, definitely, bottle shops. There’s much we could live without like cleaners, pubs, restaurants, cafés but I’m sure these are the luxuries most expect to find in paradise. Can’t have it every way!

  6. Australians love to complain about affordable/social housing and pollies love to declare that, yes, of course they’re all for it. How often, though, do we see concrete proposals? This not an insurmountable problem. Most of the rest of the first world has it figured out. As I see it the only way forward for us now without destroying the private house market out there is to have a massive medium density building program across the country. Almost every town in the country has council owned property that could be used for 2 or 3 storey apartment buildings allowing people to live close to where they work. As in Europe the rents would be set and controlled by govt agencies. And before we cry poor, Australia is more than rich enough to manage this , the future fund alone is worth trillions and isn’t looking for a return greater than what this would yield. Properly designed such a program would actually revitalise most town centres into social communities, because let’s face it, 99% of towns are dead after about 5.30 when the shops close. Here in Byron the old hospital site springs to mind…

  7. So sad for Byron residents. Another factor driving out long term owners is having the imposition of a high impact commercial business STA operating next door. Multiple Kids screeching around the Pool at 5.00am and adults socialising all night long in the Beer Garden. Residents and holiday makers do not Mix. Residents need their sleep to be able to function in their work. Imagine the sleep deprived doctor having to operate next morning. No wonder the locale are leaving en-Mass.

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