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June 2, 2023

Parts of Byron Bay, Suffolk Park and Bruns excluded from proposed 90-day holiday cap limit

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At today's announcement that Byron Shire Council may get to decide how long homes can be holiday-let in the shire. L to R: Cr Cate Coorey, Ballina MP Tamara Smith (Greens), Byron deputy mayor Michael Lyon (Greens), planning minister Anthony Roberts (Liberal), MLC Ben Franklin (Nationals). Photo Jeff Dawson
NSW Planning Minister Anthony Roberts first invited the Byron Shire Council to submit a 90-day STRA limit proposal more than three years ago. L to R: Cr Cate Coorey, Ballina MP Tamara Smith (Greens), Byron deputy mayor Michael Lyon (Greens), planning minister Anthony Roberts (Liberal), MLC Ben Franklin (Nationals). Photo Jeff Dawson

The Byron Shire Council says it’s ‘one step closer’ to receiving government permission for a 90-day annual limit on short-term rental accommodation [STRA] in parts of the shire.

Reinstated planning minister Anthony Roberts originally invited the council to submit its proposal more than three years ago.

The government meanwhile introduced 180-day caps across most of the rest of New South Wales.

 More than three years of delays on holiday letting regulations

Bureaucratic delays and an outsourced study of potential regulation limits on property owners left the Byron Shire without any effective regulations of dwellings once used as homes being used for unofficial small accommodation businesses aside from a state register.

The Urbis-contracted controversial study inevitably found negative economic impacts of the proposed 90-day cap but was found by a peer review to have used questionable methodology that failed to weigh stakeholders fairly.

A majority of councilors, after winning electoral campaigns dominated by promises to tackle a declared local housing crisis, voted earlier this year to reject the Urbis report and continue lobbying for a 90-day cap.

Councillors Mark Swivel and Alan Hunter were the only two to vote against.

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On Thursday afternoon, the council issued a media release saying it had made ‘significant progress’ on STRA policy.

‘The NSW Government’s Department of Planning approved a Gateway Determination for a planning proposal to reduce the number of days of non-hosted short-term rental accommodation in parts of the Byron Shire from 180 days to 90 days,’ the statement read.

The council said it could proceed to the next stage of public consultation on the proposal.

But hopes of the new regulations facilitating a return of a flourishing permanent community to coastal areas of the shire were unlikely to be met via the proposed version of STRA for Byron.

Instead, unlimited holiday letting could continue in parts of Byron Bay, Suffolk Party and Brunswick Heads under the proposal, while a 90-day limit would apply in other areas.

The council said it wanted to ‘mitigate the significant impacts of short-term rental accommodation on permanent rental housing supply, amenity, local character, and community, while still allowing for a diverse and sustainable base of tourist accommodation options to support the local economy’.

Byron mayor thanks planning minister

Byron Shire Mayor, Michael Lyon, was quoted in the statement.

‘This is about returning properties in key residential areas to the long-term letting pool by setting caps on how many days properties will be able to be rented out for holiday accommodation,’ Councillor Lyon said.

‘The more rental accommodation that is available for holiday letting, the less stock is there for people looking for long-term, secure housing,’ he said.

‘It is also important that we can give our communities some confidence that the house or unit next door, in their quiet residential area, will not have a continual turnover of holiday makers moving through them year-round.’

Cr Lyon referred to the Urbis report, saying it clearly showed 90-day caps would return the largest amount of properties to the long-term pool.

‘It won’t be a silver bullet but it will make a difference and we need to make a difference in the housing space,’ Cr Lyon said.

‘I thank the NSW Planning Minister, the Hon. Anthony Roberts, for taking into consideration the desperate housing crisis in our shire, exacerbated by the recent floods, and am grateful that our pleas have been heard.’

 The mayor said the council would read and collate submissions received on the proposal before presenting them to the council for consideration and a vote.

 The council said it would invite the public to make submissions soon.

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  1. So instead of a few wealthy people sharing one structure on a rental basis, you want them to have to buy a separate structure each and have those structures empty for half the year? Or do you want them to just not come up and spend money here in the first place?

    • Exactly, even more wealthy people will now buy a property, rent it out for 180 days a year, stay in it a few times a year themselves (not counted towards STRA because they are the owners) and leave it empty the rest of the time. The logical solution is to buy two houses so they can always have one available to rent.

      Prices will rise again with the extra demand. There is no silver bullet for this except to make Byron a less attractive place to be. At least that already appears to be happening. 😉

      What will be the position on them allowing friends and relatives to say for free? Not technically STRA?

  2. Congratulations to Byron Council on the Gateway approval for a 90 day cap by the DPE. There has been no indication about the size of the 365 day precincts and their boundaries. There are two models in circulation, the Byron Council proposal with much smaller areas and the Urbis proposal which is huge. This is of concern and if the Urbis model has been chosen there will not be 1500 houses returned for permanent rental. Can the Echo find out?

  3. Having lived in Byron Shire for a couple of decades now, I’ve encountered a range of views on this topic. I think though I could reduce them though to two categories:

    1. Those who think that STHL in residential areas is fine because:
    a) what you choose to do with your house is your business alone
    b) it’s the only way to cater adequately for the number of visitors to the shire and tourism is great for the local economy
    c) it helps home owners boost their income and pay for the Shire’s rather steep rates
    d) it’s part of a long tradition of coastal holidays
    e) probably others

    2. Those who have experienced living next door or close by to a holiday rental.


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