How planned changes will help more events to showcase Byron
RURAL weddings and events have at times been contentious issues in the Byron Shire and elsewhere. But a planning proposal which will now go to the State Government may help to manage challenges while allowing more property owners to legitimately host events in picturesque locations.
Jane Magnus, from Byron Bay Luxury Weddings, is the founding president of the Byron Events Industry Association.
She welcomed Byron Shire Council's support for the proposal, which drew majority support at last Thursday's planning meeting.
"It's been a long journey, nearly three years," Ms Magnus said.
"Council's done a great job with the community engagement.
"I think it's an extremely positive outcome."
Under the proposed changes to the Byron Local Environmental Plan 2014, rural venues would be able to host 20 events, such as weddings, each year.
Ms Magnus said while this wouldn't be a sustainable income alone, property owners would look to events as a supplementary income while the extra potential will extend work to the small businesses like florists, she said.
Ms Magnus said social media had interest in rural venues, but the shire had lacked a mechanism for managing this side of the industry.
"What this does is protect community but it's also protecting the industry at the same time," Ms Magnus said.
Taryn McGregor, owner of Rockinghorse Studios and secretary of the Byron Events Industry Association, is among landowners looking to expand into weddings and events when the changes are finalised.
"I think the majority of the landowners here, it'll be a great add-on for them," she said.
"Not many are looking at doing it 100 per cent of the time so 10, 20 weddings is perfect for people.
"You've also got to take into account the community around the area as well.
"20 (events) might not be the perfect number but it's really hard to say what is.
"It could be 25, it could be 15. But it's a nice starting point from council's perspective."
She said this figure also gave neighbours the certainty there wouldn't be weddings next door "every single weekend of their life" or multiple times a week.
Ms McGregor agreed social media had increased pressure on the industry, with many looking to travel to the shire to tie the knot.
"At least with this structure it'll give people consistency on how they're operating," she said
"They'll spread it out across the year and it will help with concerns with the neighbouring properties."
The Covid-19 pandemic has put a major hold on the wedding and events industry, but Ms Magnus said the ongoing impact has seen cashes-up couples who had been planning high-end destination weddings abroad now turning their gaze to the Byron Shire.
At the planning meeting, councillor Michael Lyon asked his colleagues to support a slight change to the staff recommendation, which included a limit of one event per weekend.
Cr Lyon said while there was still work to do, the council had "started at a pretty good place".
Cr Paul Spooner said the wedding events industry was "really important" for the region. Cr Cate Coorey said while she'd never supported the plan, she believed the limitations would help.
The motion to forward the proposal to the State Government was passed in a 5-2 vote.