The long-awaited report by NSW Independent Planning Commission (IPC) into Byron Shire Council’s planning proposal around holiday letting has been released, with commissioners recommending a 60-day cap on non-hosted holiday letting across the Byron Shire, instead of Council’s 90-day proposal.
And Council’s proposed precinct model, which would allow non-hosted Short-Term Rental Accommodation (STRA) all year round, was unsupported, and could be scrapped if the new NSW Labor government adopts the findings.
Then Planning Minister, Anthony Roberts (Liberal), requested the IPC intervene with Council’s plans the day before they were unanimously adopted by councillors on December 14, 2022.
Advice from Roberts was sought ‘on Short Term Rental Accommodation (STRA) and related housing and rental affordability and availability issues in the Byron Shire local government area (Byron Shire)’.
Residential V non-hosted STRA
Extensive community consultation followed.
The report reads, ‘As required, the report focuses on planning considerations that are relevant to the tension between using residential properties for non-hosted STRA and ensuring the availability and affordability of long-term rental housing in the Byron Shire.
‘The housing market and housing pressures are different in Byron Shire than in other Australian locations, and the social impact of non-hosted STRA is more significant.
‘The cost of purchased and rental housing has increased significantly, outpacing growth in regional NSW and Sydney and dwarfing average gains in household income.
‘Rental properties are not affordable for lower income households, with half the Byron Shire renters experiencing rental stress.
‘On the supply side, new housing stock and land releases planned under a suite of existing local and state-level housing policies have not proceeded at a rate that matches demand and community need.
‘According to the NSW Department of Planning and Environment, 8.5 per cent of Byron Shire housing stock (approximately 1,300 properties) is currently registered for use as non-hosted STRA. This exceeds that of other urban and coastal NSW locations, even acknowledging the pre-existing use of housing in the area for holiday homes’.
Under Recommended alternatives, the IPC say, ‘The Commission finds that a more equitable sharing of both impacts and benefits can be achieved for Byron Shire using the available regulatory regime’.
‘Tightening the local exempt development cap to 60 days would provide the financial settings needed to incentivise the use of properties for long-term rental whilst also continuing to support the incidental use of homes as non-hosted STRA. The Byron Shire STRA industry would instead be supported by a streamlined development consent process that requires Council approval for non-hosted STRA use in exceedance of the proposed cap.
Clarifying the characterisation of STRA within the broader planning system and requiring development consent for intensive non-hosted STRA beyond the 60-day cap would provide flexibility for Council (as the local consent authority) to assess, plan for and manage the social and economic impacts and benefits in line with community needs.
‘In summary, the Commission finds that within Byron Shire:
- STRA should be defined as a type of ‘tourist and visitor accommodation’ and thereby as a permissible use;
- hosted STRA should continue to be exempt development;
- non-hosted STRA should be subject to a 60-day exempt development cap;
- non-hosted STRA beyond the 60-day cap should be permissible with consent;
- transitional arrangements should be provided to support current non-hosted STRA operators; and
- these proposed changes should be subject to continuous review and improvement’.
‘The Commission was persuaded by submissions on the need to intensify efforts from local and state levels of government to increase supply through rezonings and other planning mechanisms, targeted programs with associated financial support and alternative models of housing that overcome affordability barriers.
‘There is also scope for local government and industry collaboration to increase the availability of visitor accommodation (for example motels and serviced apartments) as a viable alternative to the use of housing stock for STRA’.
Compliance and enforcement
Regarding compliance and enforcement (page 65), it reads, ‘To build community trust and confidence, there needs to be a high level of STRA industry compliance with regulatory requirements and effective enforcement by both Council and the NSW Government’.
The IPC recommends ‘The NSW Government should strengthen STRA industry compliance and enforcement arrangements and make them more visible to the community and other stakeholders, consistent with the principles of open government. This includes measures to continue to improve the effectiveness and monitoring of compliance with the STRA Code of Conduct’.
♦ The report can be found online here.
A great result for the permanent residents of Byron Shire.
Enforcement of any day cap will be an issue. Particularly, when there are a number of local STRA management businesses that appear not to be abiding by the current 180-day cap. The prosecution of these individuals will be essential if they don’t comply.
A $10000 fine for non-compliance should do the trick 🙂
There are a few more subtleties to the Report – it acknowledges various zones prohibit tourist facillities, but recommends a DA system ( for zones that permit it?), but suggests DAs should consider residential housing supply and affordability (i.e. ostensively no DA for a Hol Let would get Consent at present, but we need to get Council to build that criteria strictly into any LEP change so that it is not down to any future Council to decide on merit rather than an Adopted principle). 365 day Zones are out. Recommends Compliance against dual ocs and granny flats zoned for residential use , but is absent on Compliance on breaches of houses in zones that prohibit Hol Let use ( but Councils recent Motion goes to all unlawfully used premises). And Supports a Council levy to generate income – but would that finance Council Compliance? And now down to the NSW Minister to Adopt, Amend or Reject
Always a pleasure to read your well informed thoughts.
I concur Frank, finally some good news for long term locals. The last few years have been really tough.
Hopefully it will start to turn away the wave of freeloaders who just come here to make money off the place.
Next do something to speed up the government flood grants for buybacks and flood mitigation. Almost daily I’m speaking to someone in this region who is still affected by the floods that decimated this region over a year ago.
Great! I hope the NSW Independent Planning Commission (IPC) recommending of a 60-day cap on non-hosted holiday letting across the Byron Shire is adopted and enforced.
Community now needs to pressure the NSW Labor Government. You can bet your last dollar—the corporate powers that push non-hosted STRA will be filling up the Minister’s appointment schedule. We can’t rest until the State Government adopts the recommendations. Enjoy our little win—but the war’s not over.
Respectfully I feel the cap is a shiny diversionary tactic and while everyone is looking at it in awe 🤩 something of more impact will be passed without objection (political strategy 101)