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.