Bega Valley Shire councillors have voted to adopt their Affordable Housing Strategy, while dismissing a proposed limit to short-term rentals.
Council resolved on August 4, 2021, to recognise the Bega Valley's housing crisis and on November 3 resolved to publicly exhibit a draft of a strategy to address it.
Forty-six submissions were received and public responses were said to have been "overwhelmingly supportive" of the document.
Council staff said analysis of the community submissions led to the addition of several strategy points relating in particular to short-term rental accommodation (STRA), with this amended document the one debated and voted on at Wednesday's meeting.
Among the amended strategies was one seeking to prohibit STRA in residential R2 zones, with the idea that such limits on holiday lets would see the properties enter the pool for longer-term tenants.
Councillors were in agreement such a move did not make sense given many STRA properties would not be considered "affordable" to lower and middle income tenants anyway.
During the public forum prior to the meeting, councillors heard from Professor Roz Hansen who has spent more than 40 years as an urban planner.
She said there were better ways to address the issue of affordable housing than limiting the number of days STRA could operate.
Lisa Nimmo who manages 150 STRA properties in the Shire, also spoke at the forum against prohibiting short-term rental accommodation in R2 zones, citing loss of economic gains for the region.
She said within the housing stock of her management portfolio, there was only one home that fit the description of the kinds of homes desperately needed within the Shire (one bedroom), but since the asking price was well over $900,000, it would not fit the description of "affordable".
Ms Nimmo also said most of the R2 zones along the coastal towns included large properties on the headlands that were multiple bedroom homes, as well as being already furnished for the purpose of holiday rentals and a significant distance from the township.
Cr Cathy Griff put up an amendment motion to remove strategy 14, the one prohibiting STRA in R2 zones, in favour of first carrying out a socio-economic study to see what the impacts might be.
"It was put in there because a lot of the submissions raised it, but it wasn't dealt with, we do need more information," she said following the meeting.
Cr Mitchell Nadin tabled a foreshadowed motion to exclude several strategies - including 14 - that all dealt with STRA, having explained he thought those aspects should be further workshopped.
In approving the affordable housing strategy, councillors resolved to only remove strategy 14 of the document, meaning STRA in R2 zones would not be prohibited.
Cr Griff said she did not want the STRA debate to take away from the many elements passed. She thought the decision to adopt the strategy was a really positive step and showed how committed council was.
"It's in writing now and anyone can look up what we're doing and I think every little bit helps, we need to throw everything at it," she said.