Clarence Valley Council building on Prince Street, Grafton.
Clarence Valley Council building on Prince Street, Grafton. x

Yamba residents threaten court action against council

A YAMBA residents group is threatening to take the Clarence Valley Council to court if it proceeds with plans to allow short term rental accommodation in low density residential areas.

Making a deputation to the Clarence Valley Council's environment planning and community committee meeting on behalf the Yamba Residents Action Group, Geoffrey Beresford said the group would resort to legal action if necessary.

Mr Beresford, the group secretary, said the group felt compelled to take action because of problems arising from short term rental accommodation in areas zoned R2 low density residential under the Clarence Valley Local Environment Plan.

The committee was due to discuss a report which recommended the council amend its LEP to insert a definition for short term rental accommodation and establish controls in the R2 zone and prepare a report on short term rental accommodation that looks at it in more detail.

But the residents group opposed any change of the LEP to allow short term accommodation.

Mr Beresford said the council's recommendation for the change would place the rights of investors and short term holiday makers ahead of permanent residents.

"Permanent residents purchase their properties on the basis their properties are within the R2 residential zone and therefore exempt from short term rental accommodation," he said.

"This effectively means council has falsely represented R2 zones by not enforcing the regulations that apply to R2 zones."

He said residents had concerns about who would administer the change rules and their loss of rights compared to holiday renters.

The residents also believe permanent residents are better long term value to the local economy and by discouraging short term rental, ease the crisis in long term rentals in the area.

He said council seemed capable of enforcing regulations in many other areas, but not in this one, to the detriment of permanent residents.

"Our members are at a loss to understand why residential zoning regulations are not enforced in a similar manner," he said.

Council may be exposed to litigation by having ignored this establishment of short term and rental accommodation in R2 zones.

"As it may be successfully argued council only changed its rules to reduce its exposure to risk to the detriment of permanent residents, which may lead to a successful case for compensation to residents due to a loss of amenity and lifestyle and potential decline in property values," he said.

"Should council continue to pursue this option it will be opposed through all available legal channels by the large number of affected residents.

"If necessary our group is poised to undertake a media campaign, petition and legal challenge that may be available.

"This is how significant the issue has become to us."

The council voted to defer a decision on the report to its full meeting next week.



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