Committee considers short-term accommodation policy for Albany

Stuart McGuckinAlbany Advertiser
A map indicating the designated short-term accommodation area.
Camera IconA map indicating the designated short-term accommodation area. Credit: City of Albany

The City of Albany’s proposed short-term accommodation policy was scheduled to be debated at a committee level on Wednesday.

The report prepared for the committee recommends adopting the policy that would lead to short-term accommodation being largely limited to areas close to tourism areas and centrally located.

The designated area identified in the draft policy would encompass Albany CBD, Middleton Beach, Mira Mar, Centennial Park, Seppings and parts of Emu Point, Collingwood Park and Mt Melville.

It would not include Little Grove and Goode Beach, which had been included in the City’s “preferred areas for holiday accommodation” in its holiday accommodation policy, which would be superseded by the new policy.

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The stated objectives of the policy are to encourage short-term accommodation uses in “appropriate locations”, to ensure they are appropriately managed and residential areas are primarily for permanent residential purposes, and to provide clear guidance for the assessment of applications for short-term accommodation.

The draft policy states that short-term accommodation applications outside the designated area will be considered on a case-by-case basis, and will be required to address five criteria.

The draft policy drew some criticism when it was first raised at June’s ordinary council meeting and during the subsequent six-week public comment period, which ran from August to early September.

Five submissions were received during the period; three were in support and one was supportive subject to modification.

The final submission was an objection raised by online short-term stay marketplace Airbnb.

The company’s detailed response said it was committed to working with the City to put in place policy settings and initiatives that delivered positive outcomes for local jobs, the recovery of the tourism economy and the community.

It said the “Airbnb community has a strong track record of growing the visitor economy in the City of Albany. In the 12 months to 1 March 2022, our host community welcomed almost 30,000 guests in the City of Albany.”

“These are almost entirely trips taken by Western Australians, with little to no interstate and international travel throughout 2021, owing to border closures.”

It stated the proposed policy “will make hosting unworkable for many in the City of Albany by creating restrictive barriers to participating in the (short term rental accommodation) industry.”

“These requirements will act as a significant barrier for locals to make extra income and subsidise the rising cost of living,” it said. It was also critical that there had not been further engagement with the community.

In response to the criticism, a city officer said “significant consultation has occurred including advertising in the local newspaper, three-week comment period open to everyone, direct consultation with a number of community organisations”.

“Feedback on the proposed changes has been largely positive,” the officer said.

The report prepared for the committee suggested concerns raised during the consultation period “primarily relate to car parking, bushfire management requirements, and inconsistent regulation of short-term accommodation across the State”.

“Some general and administrative modifications are proposed to draft LPP1.6, informed by submissions received,” the report said.

The full council will consider whether to adopt the policy at its December 13 meeting.

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