Stays zoned, parties banned

Noosa properties subject to restrictions.

By Margaret Maccoll

Noosa Shire will be declared a party house free zone and short-term letting will be restricted to zoned areas or planning approval under the new Noosa Plan to be discussed at a Special Council meeting being held today at 2.30pm at Council Chambers.

Although the new Noosa Plan has been kept under wraps Council’s proposed treatment of short-term online rentals has been revealed in Council’s Short-Term Accommodation – Online Platform Issues Paper on Council’s website.

The Issues Paper was prepared by Council “to comprehensively explore the challenges arising from the sharp growth of the short-term online rental market in the Noosa shire” and facilitate “a suite of reasonable and actionable responses”.

While the paper recognises accommodation platforms such as Airbnb and Stayz contribute to Noosa’s tourist economy it recommended Council develop responses to maintain the amenity of the shire.

“Council’s response should consider the legal, economic, social, administrative and monitoring issues, with a clear undertaking not to impact negatively on the region’s tourism through overregulation and onerous legislation. It is important to make sure that the response to “home sharing” is in the best interests of both the community and the economy,” it states.

The new planning laws follow Council’s earlier action to manage short-term accommodation.

They have had representation on the Queensland Government’s Peer-to-Peer Economy and Short Term Letting Industry Reference Group (the Industry Reference Group) since it was established in 2017 to develop a policy for managing short-term rental platforms.

And last July Council engaged property monitoring service BNBGuard to implement a pilot program to determine its effectiveness in collecting data on short-term letting property. The service sends a notification when a listing appears on rental websites such as Airbnb, Stayz and Flatmates.com.au and since last December has identified 246 properties in Sunshine Beach listed online for short-term letting.

Council’s Issues Paper outlines how the new Noosa Plan will address what it describes as “the adverse consequential impacts on liveability in residential areas, due to the significant surge in visitation numbers following the emergence of online share economy accommodation booking agencies”.

These actions include:

• A short stay area map that indicates the residential zones where certain forms of visitor accommodation are acceptable (in areas situated near the Noosa River and near beaches).

• Restriction of visitor accommodation in other residential areas

• Separate definitions of dwelling house and short-term accommodation

• Party houses being defined as a specific form of holiday letting of a whole house. The Noosa shire will be declared a party house restriction area, based on s276 of the Planning Act 2016.

Once the New Noosa Plan is in place, Council will be able to take action against party houses based on complaints and “other sources to identify offending properties“.

Also under the new plan properties will be defined as “dwelling house” and “short-term accommodation” and property owners seeking to short term rent properties in unzoned areas will need to obtain planning approval through a material change of use development application.

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