Holiday lettings split Bay

By Megan Kinninment

Byron Shire Council has split over how to control holiday lettings.

The council was yesterday presented with a draft local environment plan for Byron Bay, Ewingsdale and Suffolk Park, which includes a plan to map out zones where permanent holiday letting of private homes would be allowed.

The zones would include areas close to the beach at Belongil, Suffolk Park, and the town's centre, while the majority of residential areas would remain strictly off-limits for holidaymakers.

Residents group BRACE (Byron Residents Against Community Erosion) have also called for an end to holiday letting in residential areas, claiming it is creating a living hell for permanent residents with noise, parking and garbage problems created by raucous holidaymakers.

However, Byron Shire mayor Cr Jan Barham yesterday argued against the map system, proposing instead that casual holiday letting be allowed in all residential areas under a strict licensing system for up to 90 days a year.

This would effectively end the year-round holiday home 'industry', Cr Barham said, and still allow property owners to rent their homes out for limited periods to supplement their incomes.

Cr Barham's proposal was supported by Crs Richard Staples, Peter Westheimer, Dianne Woods and Tom Tabart, but vigorously opposed by Crs John Lazarus, Bob Tardif and Jan Mangleson.

Cr Lazarus argued hundreds more homeowners would try to cash in under the plan.

"If you can make $39,000 a year from holiday letting, and only $15,000 in permanent rentals there will be no residential lettings left in Byron Bay," Cr Lazarus said. "You are condemning Byron Bay to death as a purely tourist town."

The council will vote on the issue next week.



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