A Win for Byron Community as we lead the State of NSW
Minister Anthony Roberts met with Hon Ben Franklin and Deputy Mayor Michael Lyons today at Council Chambers in Mullumbimby to announce that the State Government have thought better of the one-size-fits all solution for holiday letting when it comes to Byron Shire.
Co-convener of the group NSW Approved Accommodation Accord and approved operator, Mr Steven Haby says “We welcome this change however we are cautious about it. 90 days is a win for the community of Byron shire. However you can’t be a little bit pregnant. That’s still 90 days that a holiday let will be able to operate and will not be complying or contributing to Council. For approved operators, we still want to see a zero cap on the number of days allowed for holiday letting, and essentially for anyone that wants to run a tourism business from their residential or rural homes, we would like to see them lodging a DA. This is what all other approved operators have had to do. A 90 day cap is still not a level playing field and represents poor governance.”
Mr Haby goes on to say “The notion that some areas should have a different number of days to others is absurd. Why should Brunswick Heads be treated any differently to Bangalow or Byron CBD? You either need a DA or you don’t. There is no other business in Australia that you can run from home without a DA or permit of some sort being needed to be lodged with your local Council. Councils need to know that your business exists so that they can decide if your business is appropriate for your location and also so that they can rate your activities according to how much strain your business will put on the public purse.”
“The same goes for new builds or old builds, why should a new house or housing development have different rules to an existing house or existing housing development? Using your domestic home for the purposes of running tourism is a change of land use, and regardless of whether it is a new or old build, it should require a DA. Period.” Mr Haby elaborates.
Council’s ability to fund the region is also being called into question. “The 90 days still does not resolve the revenue problem for Council who are effectively supporting 2.2m tourists per year who are freely using Byron Shire public infrastructure that is being funded by only 15,000 ratepayers. These holiday lets are also not paying commercial rates or developer contribution funds. There are numbers being thrown around from various software packages that count the number of holiday rentals available online that there could be anywhere up to 50% of homes in the Byron shire being used for STHL. And the reason why our pot holes are not being filled is because our roads are being worn out faster than Council can collect enough revenue to fix them. It’s not just pot holes that are the issue but also the fire safety of homes and the erosion of the amenity of community. These are already huge problems and Byron is in trouble.” Mr Haby states.
“We still have some questions for Minister Anthony Roberts.”Mr Haby continues
“Is it 90 days that a holiday let can be available per year ? Or 90 days booked ? And how will the 90 days be tracked across all online platforms ? Will the State Government or Council be enlisting software to track the 90 days and will this be managed by Council or by the Dept of Fair Trading? Will there be a “dobbing in” hotline for residents to ring Fair Trading or Council with evidence that a holiday let has traded for more than 90 days ? And what evidence will be enough to shut down a holiday let that is illegally trading past the 90 days? For now, we remind the public that holiday letting is still illegal under the current Byron Shire LEP and we ask concerned residents to remain vigilant by providing evidence to Council of any holiday letting activities that they observe in their area. There is a link on the Council website where you can report any holiday letting whatsoever as it is still a prohibited activity in this Shire www.byron.nsw.gov.au/Services/Building-development/Planning-in-progress/Short-term-rental-accomodation .”
“This news from Minister Anthony Roberts is definitely a win for Byron however we feel that the State Government has not gone far enough to protect approved operators across the state – other country towns will suffer from this Bill as will Sydney. We also call for Labour’s Asren Pugh and Green’s Tamara Smith to clarify how they will do better than the current State Government on this issue if they are elected? Elections are only 6 weeks away and this is the question on everyone’s lips especially affected residents and the approved operators. We also urge Council to engage our group the NSW Approved Accommodation Accord in discussions on how to best to formulate this new policy that the State Government is allowing Byron Shire special exemption to do. Byron Shire now has the opportunity to lead the whole State on formulating the gold standard of holiday letting policy that we can all be proud of. This is such a contentious issue that all eyes are on us from around the country and around the world, so let’s work with Byron Shire Council to provide the best results possible for the benefit of the broader community and for the approved operators that have already paid to play. ” My Haby states.
It is clear that the community is divided over this issue, and also that infrastructure is clearly failing with inadequate Council funds. “We don’t want to squash holiday letting, on the contrary, we just want holiday letting to go through the same regulation that approved operators have to go through. If all holiday letting operators were made to comply and contribute, then we will have a much better model for sustainability. Otherwise the potential for unrestricted holiday letting to ruin our towns will be catastrophic and irreversible. If we get this wrong, Byron will be over cooked and ruined forever. “
“We also urge all approved operators in the Byron Shire to join our facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/NSWApprovedAccommodationAccord/ and have your voice heard”