The Perrottet government has broken their election commitment to Byron Shire on controlling short term rental accommodation (STRA) the day before Byron Shire Council was set to debate lowering the rental cap, in some parts of the shire, from 180 to 90 days.
‘Councillors were expecting to debate and vote on whether to implement a cap on STRA in some parts of the Byron Shire at the meeting [Thursday 15, December], but this last-minute decision by the Planning Minister means the NSW Independent Planning Commission (IPC) will now have the final say,’ said Byron Shire Mayor Michael Lyon.
In the lead-up to the last election the Liberal/National minister for planning, Anthony Roberts, said ‘following advocacy from Nationals senator Ben Franklin he had “decided to issue a ministerial direction which invites Byron Shire to lead the way by proposing 90 day thresholds in the most impacted towns of the LGA (local government area)”.’
Since that point, the Byron Shire Council has jumped through all the hoops that the state government has insisted on from community and business consultation to economic forecasts to come to the proposal that was to be discussed at Thursday’s BSC meeting.
Not only had Anthony Roberts promised Byron Shire that ‘he would be open to all solutions, including limiting the number of weekends that were available for renting as a holiday let’; the importance of affordable housing in the region and support for the approach by Byron Shire had been confirmed by former NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and current Premier Dominic Perrottet.
‘It is outrageous that Perrottet has reneged on his promise to our community like this and moved the goalposts at the eleventh hour,’ local Ballina MP Tamara Smith told The Echo.
‘Our community was promised the opportunity to reign in unfettered holiday letting in Byron Shire but today that covenant was ripped up, and instead we are being dictated to by vested interests in Macquarie Street, and it is those powerful vested interests that will have the final say on what happens in our community.
‘We have been through countless consultation processes on this issue and the community has repeatedly said we want homes to live in for residents, workers, and the workers in frontline agencies that serve our communities.
Reigning in short term holiday letting is only one step but it is a vital step and we got that in law. But today that was undone, ripped up and Perrottet has kowtowed to the bullies in his own coalition and the revolving door in Macquarie Street of powerful lobbyists and corporations with vested interests,’ she said.
‘You know it’s close to an election when the bullies come out and we’ve seen the powerful gambling corporations strong-arming and now vested property interests behind the short term holiday rental market obviously bullying Perrottet – how else can you explain breaking a covenant with our community over housing when we are in an acute housing crisis and after all that people have been through in our region.’
The reneging on their election promise comes following a campaign from vested interests in the STHL industry who have lobbied against the 90 day cap.
Byron Shire Mayor, Michael Lyon today said he was surprised by a decision by the NSW Planning Minister to revoke an earlier commitment to allow Council to decide on its Short Term Rental Accommodation (STRA) Planning Proposal.
In June 2022, the NSW Government’s Department of Planning and Environment gave Council permission to seek community feedback on 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.
Council received more than 1,500 different forms of feedback, including 784 written submissions and 766 responses to surveys. One of these submissions was a petition containing over 1,000 signatures.
The results of the community exhibition of the planning proposal are on the agenda for tomorrow’s Council meeting.
‘I am surprised and disappointed because we have been working towards this for several years, and our proposal to cap areas for STRA to 90 days in parts of the Byron Shire is a modest one seeking balance, in the best interests of our community,’ Mr Lyon said.
‘We have done a comprehensive engagement and consultation process and the majority of feedback received supported Council’s proposal, with many feeling it doesn’t go far enough.’
NSW Department of Planning and Environment’s Deputy Secretary of Planning, Marcus Ray, said the IPC would provide advice on the Council’s planning proposal to reduce the cap on non-hosted short-term rental accommodation in parts of its area from 180 to 90 days.
‘In light of the 1,500 pieces of feedback received by the Council on the proposal through formal submissions, an online survey and a petition, and the potentially significant economic impacts such a change could have on local businesses, the Government has asked the IPC to not only advise on the proposal but also whether the Government should allow the proposed changes to go forward,’ Mr Ray said.
The IPC will provide advice on:
- The status of housing and rental affordability and availability in the LGA, and recommendations to improve them;
- The economic contribution of the STRA industry and any potential implications of the proposal; and
- Whether it recommends the proposal should be finalised, with or without any amendments, or whether any further information may be required to make a decision.
Need a place to live
Mr Lyon said that ‘The aim of this [STRA] planning proposal is to mitigate the significant impacts of short-term rental accommodation on permanent rental housing supply, amenity, local character and community while allowing for a diverse and sustainable base of tourist accommodation options to support the local economy.
‘At the core of this planning proposal is a desire to return more stable, long-term accommodation to the rental market so our people can have somewhere to live and to ensure that we do not continue to lose long-term accommodation to short-term letting. There are economic benefits to the proposal, because there are so many jobs not being done currently in our Shire because there is nowhere for people to live. Conversely, there is more than enough short-term accommodation for visitors, but if it were to be occupied, we wouldn’t have the staff in the shops and restaurants to service them,’ he said.
‘We know there has been a very strong campaign by some property owners and investors, and multi-national companies such as Airbnb [and other STRA providers], to bury this planning proposal and I am confident that when the IPC reviews this matter, it will agree with the balanced approach Council is proposing.
‘This planning proposal is based on meeting the accommodation needs of everyone in our community, and I make no apology to those opposing it.
‘I am confident the IPC will find our process has been considered and very thorough and complies with all the requirements set out by the Department of Planning and Environment.’