Originally published: here

ARE the eight people injured in a balcony collapse in Yamba the casualties of an explosion of lax regulation surrounding short-term rental accommodation? That’s the query from a Sydney-based residents’ lobby group opposing short-term rentals.

Police confirmed eight people were treated for injuries with four people being taken to hospital for further treatment after the balcony collapsed at an address at Clarence St on Friday.

Neighbours Not Strangers has opened debate on who was responsible for allowing the pre-wedding gathering to take place at the address.

The group’s convener, Trish Burt, identified a number of possibilities.

“So who’s responsible? The local council for tolerating such activity in an unlicensed property? The internet platform that facilitated the booking? The owner/s of the property?,” she said.

“And will there be an attempt to blame the clients for overloading the balcony or behaving in such a way that they compromised the structure?

“What will be the total cost for the emergency services personnel, ambulances, a helicopter, hospital and any ongoing medical costs?”

Clarence Valley Mayor Jim Simmons said the short-term rental issue now and currently a subject for debate at council.

“I think we’ve got something on exhibition, or going to exhibition soon, looking at the planning regulations around this,” Cr Simmons said.

“Personally I support the views of the Yamba residents who addressed the council meeting.

“They bought into the area on the understanding there were certain types of land use allowed, so I can understand why they’re getting upset.”

But Cr Simmons said the council was limited in what it could do to police these matters.

“What do they want us to do, put another person on?” he said. “It is something the council has responsibility for, but we need help from residents.

“If they see anything they think is not right they need to let us know.”

A Yamba residents group has threatened to take legal action against Clarence Valley Council if it changes its planning regulation to allow short-term accommodation in residential zones.

The Yamba Residents Action Group’s Geoffrey Beresford addressed a council committee meeting earlier this year to argue against short term rentals in low density accommodation zones.

He told the council a definition for short-term rental accommodation in the R2 zone for short-term rental accommodation would place the rights of investors and short-term holiday makers ahead of permanent residents.

“Permanent residents purchased their properties on the basis their properties are within the R2 residential zone and therefore exempt from short-term rental accommodation,” Mr Beresford said.

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