While NSW government departments and Liberal/National politicians distance themselves from taking any responsibility on holiday letting (see news, page 3), where exactly will tourist and visitor accommodation be permitted in Council’s new planning document, the draft 2012 LEP (local environment plan)?
Taking Byron Bay’s existing business and residential areas, the town has been zoned broadly into R2 (low-density residential), a little of R3 (medium-density residential) and B2 (local centre). Zone B2 (local centre) is the only zone that permits all forms of ‘tourist and visitor accommodation’ with consent and predictably covers Byron’s CBD. But that’s a small area; zone R2 (low-density residential) covers much of Byron’s residential areas, including Wategos, and lists ‘tourist and visitor accommodation’ as prohibited but ‘bed & breakfast accommodation’ and ‘boarding houses’ as permitted with consent. Zone R3 (medium density residential) is similar to R2 in this regard, with exception that R3 also permits ‘serviced apartments’,
Council may say what they consider is illegal through LEP ‘provisions’; however, any authority it has is being undermined by those who holiday let in non-holiday-let zones. Will this new LEP provide any more certainty? It will if Council bothers to uphold it in the courts – otherwise why not drop the charade?
Residents don’t have to wait around for councils, however. In a case brought to the Land and Environment Court over a holiday letting at Terrigal, the Dobrohotoff family, fed up with disruptive short-term neighbours, had a win despite the reluctance of the Gosford council to prosecute. If our council continues to dither with ‘consultation’ when it’s action against illegal letting that is needed, then it can’t be too surprised if residents see the courts as a source of more reliable justice.
There’s never a dull, or even modest, moment in the easternmost part of the nation. Take last week, when nude beach-goers were under Council’s watchful eye in the ordinary meeting.
Despite a staff recommendation to revoke the clothing-optional status of Tyagarah Nature Reserve, councillors deferred it to a stakeholder consultation.
While bathing nude is generally not a threat to the public, there is no doubt that Tyagarah’s Grays Lane, specifically the tea-tree lakes and Tyagarah beach’s sand dunes, is a place where public sex acts are, well umm, performed. And that has unsurprisingly shocked and offended those who were not aware of the activities that exist there.
Nothing like walking little Timmy past a grunting, hairy, fat, masturbating old weirdo to get some beach time.
If a film crew visited daily to collect footage, would the incidents decrease? Maybe the typical pervert would instead revel in a new found celebrity status and become even more of an exhibitionist. Is that even possible? One imagines you’ve reached a plateau of no return with that behaviour.
Interestingly, the same issue was tackled at the Boatharbour Nature Reserve near Lismore years ago, where National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) locked the gate to what had become a seedy pick-up joint. The problem with the tea-tree lakes and beach is that locking up such a large area would be well, impossible, and unfortunately signs alerting the public are regularly stolen or taken down.
Hopefully a solution can be brokered where baring your bum on the Tyagarah beach is allowed and the creeps that frequent a traditional Aboriginal birthing ground are expelled.
Hans Lovejoy, editor