Council ramps up action against illegal dwellings
BYRON Shire Council said they will be cracking down on residents building illegal dwellings without consent, and will not hesitate to bring cases to court "for as long as it takes" to get the message across.
In a statement released on Friday Council reminded residents about the serious consequences of unlawful building works, following its recent success in the Byron Bay Local Court concerning the conversion of a garage into a habitable dwelling without development consent.
The case brought against the Byron Bay property owner and resident (who was also a builder) resulted in a conviction and a fine of $3,750 and order to pay Council's legal costs of $1500.
The fine was reduced from $5000 because the defendant entered an early plea of guilty.
The maximum penalty for the offence if it is prosecuted in the Land and Environment Court is $1 million and $110,000 in the Local Court.
"The message we want to make clear is that when people undertake building or development works without consent from Council, they are knowingly doing the wrong thing, it is illegal and Council can successfully prosecute against you," Council's Director Sustainable Environment and Economy, Shannon Burt said.
"Developing or building without consent from Council compromises the objects of the Environmental Planning and assessment Act including the proper management of towns and villages for the purpose of promoting orderly and economic development of land and to protect the environment.
"Building without consent can also be very dangerous and compromise health and safety for our residents, whether it's from a structural point of view or because electrical connections are unsafe, waste disposal facilities are unsafe ... there are literally hundreds of things that can go wrong when there are no consent checks in place.
"The reality is that without development consent, you could be endangering not only your own safety, but the safety of your neighbours and your neighbourhood.
"We will be bringing other cases to the Land and Environment Court in coming months, and for as long as it takes, to clamp down on illegal dwellings in the Byron Shire," she said.