Byron Shire Council has been working on a plan to better manage rural weddings and events.
Byron Shire Council has been working on a plan to better manage rural weddings and events.

Rural sites allowed to host up to 20 events a year

A NEW approach to managing weddings and other events on rural properties has been supported by Byron Shire Council.

The majority of councillors supported a move to forward a planning proposal to the State Government, that would spark changes to the Byron Local Environmental Plan 2014, at Thursday's planning meeting.

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Councillor Michael Lyon moved a recommendation from staff with some additions, including that events at rural venues be limited to one per weekend.

The changes will allow rural sites to host up to 20 events a year.

Jane Magnus from Byron Bay Luxury Weddings, also the founding president of the Byron Events Industry Association, addressed the council via Zoom to say the change to the LEP would be "positive for the Byron Shire" in a number of ways.

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She said the changes would "give a sense of fairness within the industry", boost the council's ability to manage issues and "the community will know where they stand".

She said for many property owners, hosting events was a matter of "supplementing income and diversifying how people experience Byron Bay and the hinterland".

"Events can be an additional revenue stream for those property owners," Ms Magnus said.

She said not having a formal approach for managing these events had been a source of strain.

"Our small businesses rely on these weddings and events," she said.

"Byron in recent years has been seen from afar as a difficult place to host a wedding or event."

Cr Lyon said his amendment would protect residents close to rural venues from being bombarded with events on consecutive days.

He said the plan would be "good for the shire in a lot of ways if managed properly".

"We still have a lot more work to do on this," he said.

"This is the first kind of foray … and then we're going to be monitoring how it works and how it doesn't work.

"The complications that exist will exist anyway.

"I think we've started at a pretty good place."

Mayor Simon Richardson queried how the council would define events, and asked whether a venue could host a wedding on Friday followed by a "small gathering" on the Sunday afternoon.

Staff confirmed the wording was designed to capture "more than just weddings because there are other activities sought and carried on", meaning Cr Lyon's amendment would permit just one event of any kind per weekend.

Cr Richardson said it was important for this detail to be "nuanced".

Deputy mayor Sarah Ndiaye said while there was some "grey area" in the proposal, the council would "have the opportunity, over time … to tweak them".

"But this is a starting point," she said.

Cr Cate Coorey said she was "never a supporter" of the plan but believed the limitations would help.

"I never really supported this but I appreciate we're doing everything we can to bring an industry that has been roguish into line," she said.

Cr Paul Spooner said the wedding events industry was "really important" for the region.

"This whole approach is about managing something," he said.

"We're limiting the number of events to 20 per year.

"You have to define what an event is. This is just nuancing the proposal to something … pretty reasonable.

"The industry can certainly work with this in terms of bookings.

"They can only run 20 events a year. That makes it much more accommodating I would think to the community surrounding these sites."

The motion was passed in a 5-2 vote.