Major snag for council’s holiday let precinct plan

Byron Council’s plan to control holiday lets in the shire by introducing ‘precincts’ has hit a major snag.

The Department of Planning’s deputy director general Tom Gellibrand has told the council that it was not appropriate to control holiday tenancies through the planning system.

“Accordingly I cannot agree with the current draft provisions within the draft LEP,” he said in a letter to the council’s general manager Graeme Faulkner.

“Council is encouraged to continue the current model of self regulation/management through the letting agents and landowners as a means of minimising any impacts.”

The council had decided that holiday letting should be restricted to certain parts of Byron Bay and Brunswick Heads.

The proposed holiday letting zones are part of the council’s draft LEP which is being reviewed by the department.

While Holiday Let Organisation (HLO) Byron Incorporated president John Gudgeon says the department’s view vindicates the group’s stance on the issue, Byron Mayor Cr Jan Barham disagrees.

Cr Barham said a report would be presented to council at the end of the month detailing the department’s letter.

“This is an opportunity to have a dialogue with the department and to justify why we believe that holiday letting should be in the planning process.

“There are some aspects of the plan that are obviously not clear to the department including our legal grounds.

“We need to explain our position on the issue including the fact that holiday letting a property is not an ancillary use as the department says, but a permanent one.”

Asked whether the department’s letter was a setback for the council, Cr Barham said ‘No’.

Mr Gudgeon said the council was obviously out of touch with the department on the issue.

“This issue has been in debate for four years and now with the department’s letter we are back to where we started and our original stance on holiday letting has been vindicated,” he said.

“It’s obvious that the council never had the capacity of getting any LEP into an acceptable format along with the ever growing list of planning failures.

Mr Gudgeon said the council had not shown any competency and had been ‘shot down’ by the department.

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