Sunshine Beach is a short-stay hot spot in Noosa Shire.
Sunshine Beach is a short-stay hot spot in Noosa Shire.

Mayor says short-stay reforms ‘won’t rock economy’

A SUGGESTION there will be “some drastic economic impact” if Noosa Council’s short-term letting reforms are adopted are overstated, according to Mayor Tony Wellington.

“If the current (council) proposal to make short-stay inconsistent in the low-density residential area is adopted, existing use rights will remain for properties currently being used for Airbnb-type accommodation,” the mayor said.

“Genuinely home-hosted properties will not be impacted by the proposed planning scheme changes.

“So there is not going to be any sudden reduction in the more than 3000 properties across the shire that are currently being let through online platforms.”

Cr Wellington was responding to his mayoral challenger at the March election, Clare Stewart and questioned the accuracy of her “alleged 100 complaints” as a catalyst for council’s actions on short-stay accommodation.

“Just who alleges this figure, I wonder? She doesn’t say, and it’s not a figure that I recall emanating from council.

“Planning staff have noted that the issue of Airbnb-type properties has raised more complaints than any other matter over the past couple of years. I have also personally received many complaints,” he said.

And the mayor responded to criticisms about the timing of the changes ahead of the election.

“There is nothing new or hurried about council’s deliberations on this topic. We have been grappling with short-stay accommodation and its impacts for many years.

“Noosa Council successfully took the matter to the 2017 Local Government Association conference, and that was the inspiration for the State Government to establish a reference group. I sit on that reference group.

“Over the past two years, I have also fronted public meetings on the matter.”

He said the new planning scheme, which is to be discussed and voted on this Wednesday has been in development for more than four years, has been looking to deal with the short-stay dilemma.

“Many hundreds of submissions and much dialogue has resulted,” he said.

“The planning scheme doesn’t just consider the local economy. It also has to consider a range of issues regarding land use including amenity, conflicts between different types of land use, demographic spread, housing availability, housing affordability, traffic, parking and provision of services and public facilities.

“According to staff, the proposal to make short-stay inconsistent in the low-density residential areas is in-keeping with the long-held purpose of such a zoning, which is to create neighbourhoods primarily for the housing of permanent residents with minimal impact by visitors.”

He said while Ms Stewart suggested he delay the vote, the matter “is encapsulated in the whole planning scheme which needs to be dealt with”.

“In any case, as mayor, I don’t have the prerogative or authority to stop a report going to council, and it would be remiss of me to attempt to do so.”

He said Ms Stewart’s further suggestion not to use a casting vote vote on this issue in the event of a tied vote, is not possible.

“Under standing orders, a tied vote must be dealt with by the chair’s casting vote. The chair does not have an option not to vote,” Cr Wellington said.

“Once a vote has been called then a decision must be made on the motion and a deferral cannot occur after the vote is called.”

“With regards to management of short-stay issues, the community’s wide range of concerns have been very much heard and considered. But this is one of those matters where there can never be a decision that pleases everyone, no matter how much longer council drags out the process.”

The mayor pointed out the caretaker period in the lead up to the election is still two months away.

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