Shire of Augusta-Margaret River planners have welcomed the State Government’s long-awaited changes to the short-stay sector and believe they will not undermine existing planning controls. The Times previously reported concerns Planning Minister John Carey’s reforms could waive away the need for planning approvals for Airbnb-type rentals if in use for fewer than 90 days per year. While the announcement included that relaxation, the changes would now only be applied to metropolitan areas. Place-based limits on where short stays could be registered were not affected by the long-awaited changes, which stem back to a 2020 Parliamentary inquiry into the sector. Shire president Julia Meldrum said the outcome, detailed late last week, reflected actions the Shire supported. “We’re grateful that the Government has listened to regional local governments and will allow existing regulatory frameworks to continue to apply and allows holiday homes can be managed in a locally appropriate way,” she said. City of Busselton Mayor Phill Cronin also welcomed the changes amid a flood of properties listed across the Capes region, saying local controls remained crucial. “It is pleasing to see that the proposed reforms recognise the important role short-term rental accommodation plays in the tourism accommodation sector in regional communities and is allowing for a localised approach,” he said. However, some industry figures lamented the slow timetable for the reforms’ roll-out. That included a long-mooted Statewide registry for homes on the short-stay market only expected to open midway through next year. The registration platform was designed to combat the rise of unlawful accommodation providers who had become a thorn in the side for traditional operators. The Planning Minister said the long-considered reforms sought to strike a balance between controls for the sector as well as concerns about supply for the rental market. “The planning approval process provides an opportunity for potential impacts of un-hosted short-term rental accommodation to be assessed, and management measures put in place,” Mr Carey said. “The new STRA planning reforms will provide local governments guidance on STRA land uses in their planning schemes and frameworks. “Our Government recognises that regional markets can vary significantly, and as such, require a localised response.” Premier Roger Cook said short-term rentals remained an important part of WA tourism, but the social consequences were also important. “It is impossible to ignore the impact this increasingly popular type of accommodation has had on some local neighbourhoods and communities,” he said. The reforms would “create a more level playing field” and a $10,000 incentive for short-stay owners to return homes to the rental market was included as a key measure. Commerce Minister Sue Ellery said the registration platform, once established, would provide a clearer picture of the short-stay sector across WA. Margaret River-Busselton Tourism Association chief executive Sharna Kearney also welcomed the reforms not interfering with existing controls. “This is good news for this region’s traditional accommodation providers, as we have two local governments which have robust policies in place,” she said. Registration was a condition of MRBTA membership.