LANDOWNERS in South Gippsland Shire now have more certainty following action by Planning Minister Matthew Guy to bring forward the long awaited South Gippsland Rural Land Use Strategy 2011.
“South Gippsland Shire Council requested I approve Amendment C63 to introduce a new Rural Activity Zone, provide clarity on the planning controls and end ten years of confusion and complexity,” Mr Guy said.
“Council has been involved in the preparation of the strategy for six years and has engaged with the community, agricultural industry groups, rural landowners and the farming community.”
South Gippsland Mayor Warren Raabe applauded Minister Guy’s decision to endorse the Rural Strategy adopted by Council last August and approve the planning scheme amendment.
“The debate on rural land use in South Gippsland has been long and contentious. We were never going to please everybody, but at least the South Gippsland community now has a planning scheme that offers more opportunity to small lot landowners. They have certainty and a clear set of rules,” said Cr Raabe. “This brings closure to what has been a long running issue and allows Council to focus on many other pressing matters.”
He said that now the Rural Strategy has been finalised Council will move onto the next lot of strategic planning work, which will include a housing and settlement strategy.
In approving the amendment, the Minister has made some minor changes relating to properties between 4.1 and 40 hectares and properties primarily covered with native vegetation. These changes are to ensure consistency with state-wide policy and the Farming Zone provisions. Essentially, the amendment is consistent with Council’s adopted strategy. This allows dwellings on land above 40 hectares in the Farming Zone and also land below 8 hectares, subject to certain criteria, but landholders will find it very difficult to justify a need for a dwelling on land between 8 and 40 hectares.
The amendment also rezones 5,100 hectares of land from the Farming Zone to a new Rural Activity Zone in the areas of Yanakie (Foley Road), Waratah North (Meikle Road), Foster North, Koonwarra, Loch and Mirboo North.
Mayor Raabe said the Rural Activity Zone was decided on by Council as the result of a joint tourism study with Bass Coast to encourage tourism development.
“It will give landholders the chance of enterprises which are not specifically agricultural,” he said. “Our rural strategy has more flexibility in it than any other in the state.”
Deputy Premier and Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan congratulated Council on undertaking the rigorous process to find a suitable outcome.
“The entire community now has a clear picture of the future of the municipality’s rural areas, providing direction to support growth and change for dwellings and tourist activities in identified areas. This is a great outcome for the community and one that has been long awaited,” Mr Ryan said.
Amendment C63 will come into effect when the notice of its approval is published in the Victorian Government Gazette, expected to be tomorrow (Thursday March 8). It is available at www.dpcd.vic.gov.au/planning/planningschemes.
Council will be distributing information on the amendment via its website following the Rural Land Use Strategy’s placement into the South Gippsland Planning Scheme. Enquiries are welcome.