MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE SUFFOLK PARK PROGRESS ASSOCIATION HELD ON THURSDAY 27 NOVEMBER 2008 AT 7PM AT THE SUFFOLK PARK COMMUNITY HALL
The meeting commenced at 7.05pm.
Currently at State government for approval, it will be 6 – 9 months before the LEP would go on exhibition here for discussion and public comment.
BP Land update
Bernie has spoken with Ray Darney at Council; currently there are problems with soil contamination on the site which need to be addressed by the developers, who at this stage have not responded to Council.
Holiday Letting in Suffolk Park
Council has put in a recommendation that Suffolk Park be not included as one of the precincts in Byron Shire where holiday letting is allowable. A lively debate was had at the meeting. Jan Barham explained that as the area is currently zoned 2a residential, it is actually illegal to holiday let permanently; and also raised issues of insurers not covering holiday letting in residentially-zoned properties as it is a tourist facility activity.
Several attendees refuted this and said that it had not been proven to be illegal. The Mayor argued that it was a case that would stand up in court, that it IS illegal.
The main arguments to emerge at the meeting were:
FOR Holiday letting:
If well regulated, it can be a benefit to both tourists and the community. Some attendees believe the major problem now is lack of screening of renters by real estate agents. Their experience is that due to extensive screening of applicants, they have never received one complaint from neighbours.
Holiday letting provides many jobs within our community.
Holiday letters would willingly pay an increased amount in rates to give something back to the community.
Attendee argued that tourist precincts haven’t worked elsewhere.
AGAINST Holiday letting:
The excess noise from holiday lets.
The additional strain on services such as garbage removal.
A lack of permanent rentals available to residents.
The erosion of community ties and spirit.
Inflated property prices.
The Mayor noted that the highest level of complaints to the Police in the past week had come from holiday lets in Suffolk Park.
She feels that the huge number of permanent holiday lets (600 houses in Byron Bay/Suffolk Park, which represents 25% of total house numbers, and 30% of these are owned by absentee owners) has eroded the sense of community, increased the number of people leaving the Shirt, decreased the numbers of volunteers in community organisations, left Byron high school short of teachers, and costs the community a fortune in cleanup. She argued that “we want to preserve the specialness of this community, which comes from a population that has cared and fought for this town over many decades”.
She put forth several options for holiday letting to be sustainable in Suffolk Park : one would be to establish a regulated B&B, the other to have a clause whereby permanent resident owners could let for a specific period, eg. Christmas/New Years.
Some attendees responded that the B&B idea put forth by BSC was too costly (approx. $65,000 for a licence) and the Mayor said that was being re-evaluated.
There was an argument put forth that the Shire may evolve to where employment is more home-based (eg. Writing, IT), and that cleaning holiday lets would not be such necessary source of income. The mayor quoted that recent studies show that an economy does not necessarily slow when there is a decrease in tourism and an increase in permanent tenants.
Re. rates for holiday lets, the Mayor argued that in Noosa, absentee landlords pay 50% of oncosts of their lets; in Byron shire, business rates are roughly 2 times residential rates , whilst in Bondi in Sydney, business rates are 8 times the residential.
The majority of the meeting expressed concern and dismay at having holiday lets for neighbours and that it had a negative impact on their quality of life.
Clifford St shops footpath
BSC is looking into having an architect draw up plans to beautify and fix the footpath/ shops entrance. The result may then be carried out by a combination of BSC funding and community partnership.
DA for 46 Armstrong Street
For 5 two-storey dwellings, currently on exhibition.
Roundabout for Clifford Street
The GM of Council has just discovered, since plans have been drawn up, that there is a problem with lands acquisition which may prevent a roundabout from going ahead.
DA for new café in Clifford Street shops
The DA which was refused has been re-submitted, and Council may review their decision (refused on basis of lack of car parking spaces) in light of foot traffic and bike riders using the Café.
One attendee was concerned about large delivery trucks parking on the southern side of Clifford St and potential traffic accidents.
The meeting concluded at 9.15pm.