Self-contained camping has become huge world-wide.
Self-contained camping has become huge world-wide. Moma7

Camping site hits out at council regulation

THE Sunshine Coast Council has been criticised by the creators of a sharing economy platform for farmers to rent out land to campers.

Youcamp.com, which is billed as "Airbnb for the great outdoors", lists private farms and land across Australia where campers can stay.

A week after founder, James Woodford, told the Daily the Sunshine Coast was "one of the most popular areas" for campers, the council announced plans to crack down on the operation.

Hinterland councillor Greg Rogerson said the situation was becoming similar to Buderim's Urban Food Street where the council cut down mature fruit trees grown on footpaths because landowners had not obtained the permit the council insisted they required.

Cr Rogerson told other media landholders would have to spend around $10,000 to gain the necessary approvals.

The council's infrastructure charge for cabins was $3780 per cabin and for tented camps was $2520 per site.

Mr Woodford said this was "ridiculous".

"Other governments' approach to us has been to say 'what can we do to make this easier for landowners and still make sure the property is regulated," he said.

"We want to see it become regulated, but it has to be reasonable."

A council spokeswoman said policy had been adopted which allowed council to approve "limited facilities camping without the need for property owners to satisfy the requirements of up to 30 local laws".

"Planning scheme requirements are still required to be met to ensure the safety of the public, staff and the environment with these uses in mind. Council is continuing to investigate options for this tourism market."

Youcamp co-managing director Prue Bartlett suggested the Sunshine Coast Council look to Noosa, which had come up with a reasonable working policy.

"Noosa has come up with a scheme that is self-assesable," she said.

"On the land in the regional areas they can have campervans and caravans stay on the land without needing a development approval."

Ms Bartlett said Youcamp had been in talks with the Sunshine Coast Council for around two years trying to look for a resolution.

"They came up with an interim camping policy with limited facilities, but we rang up about it asking what it meant as it was pretty bureaucratic.

"We thought there would be hope around it, but really, there isn't any."

She said this move was costing the region money.

"Noosa has moved forward in a positive way, the Sunshine Coast had the opportunity as well, but they have gone the other way.

"They don't seem to be able to find a resolution to this issue.

"It shows no vision. A lot of people are not interested in the big commercial camping grounds and will bypass the area.

"It has been a shame we haven't been able to get any support from the Sunshine Coast Council at this point.

"We support regulation. It is not a question about not being regulated, but make it sensible.

"Right across the world this type of tourism is welcome.

"It is such a wasted opportunity for the Sunshine Coast Council. I'm not sure if the council has a vested interest in caravan parks as we do have problems in areas where councils have had vested interest in their own parks.

"These council's don't like Youcamp, we are seen as a competitor, even though this is not the market we are tapping into."

The Sunshine Coast Council operates six popular camp sites across the region.

Ms Bartlett said Youcamp hosts paid their taxes and complied with laws.

"The hosts are happy to get their own insurance in place. They pay their taxes and it is regulated," she said.

"A number of Sunshine Coast hosts have essentially given up because it is ridiculous. There is nothing stopping the Sunshine Coast from following Noosa."

Mr Woodford said he wanted farmers to gain some benefit from the share economy.

"At the moment city people are renting out rooms and studios left, right and centre on Airbandb. Why are landholders getting such a hard time for the basic activity of camping?

"It solves so many problems for local councils. There should be simple regulations in place to make it a win-win for everybody."

The Daily has approached the council for comment.



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