dairyfarmAN ALREADY overloaded Bass Coast Shire Council planning department would be hit with even more vexatious planning applications if the council agrees to go ahead with the proposed 250 hectare minimum for a dwelling in the Farming zone. That’s the view of Inverloch farmer and developer, Rohan White, who said last week that the 250 hectare minimum contained in the shire’s draft Rural Land Use Strategy was plainly ridiculous. “If your property isn’t 250 hectares in size, and there would be very few in the shire that would be, you’ll have to make an application to the shire’s planning department,” Mr White said. “And you’ll have to satisfy all the conditions about it being reasonably required for the operation of the agricultural activity conducted on the land and you’ll have to get a report from John Mulvany and all the other consultants to support it. “If the shire doesn’t like it, you’ll have to take it to VCAT. “They’ve (the planning department) already got enough to do now without taking this on. I’ve had applications in there for well over 12 months now and this will only make matters worse. “We can’t get things going (in the local economy) if you can’t get a planning application through.” Mr White said, from personal experience, it could cost up to an extra $40,000 to get all the supportive material together and to fight an application through VCAT, plus take up to an additional two years, just to be allowed to build a house on farm land. “With all the things farmers have got to deal with at the moment, it’s just another kick in the guts they didn’t need,” he said. Presently, the Bass Coast Shire Council has no local laws which relate to applying for a dwelling in the Farming Zone, so the general provisions, introduced when the current suite of rural zones was introduced into the Bass Coast Planning Scheme in 2006, apply. When the new rural zones were introduced, it was stated that one of the main purposes of the Farming zone rules was: To ensure that non-agricultural uses, particularly dwellings, do not adversely affect the use of land for agriculture. As it stands, just one dwelling is allowed per farm and the farm must be at least 40ha (100 acres) in size. Applications can be made for dwellings on Farming land under 40ha or for a subdivision so that an additional home can be built, but these applications are already subject to strict conditions. As well as that they are subject to general conditions relating to the application for dwellings in the Farming zone, including the following: * Whether the dwelling will result in the loss or fragmentation of productive agricultural land * Whether the dwelling is reasonably required for the operation of the agricultural activity conducted on the land * Whether the dwelling will be adversely affected by agricultural activities on adjacent and nearby land due to dust, noise, odour, use of chemicals and farm machinery, traffic and hours of operation * Whether the dwelling will adversely affect the operation and expansion of adjoining and nearby agricultural uses * The potential for the proposal to lead to a concentration or proliferation of dwellings in the area and the impact of this on the use of the land for agriculture. Although the Bass Coast Shire’s new draft strategy revealed plans to have a 250ha minimum across most of the shire’s Farming land, the draft does not set out what additional hoops the shire might want landowners to jump through before gaining approval for a subdivision or a dwelling. Shire officers and consultants who met with landowners at a series of meetings last week agreed there was some concern expressed about the 250ha minimum but they noted that landowners were also interested in where the shire planned to establish new Rural Activity Zones, were uses are more flexible. “They would have liked to see more Rural Activity Zones,” said one of the representatives of planning consultants RMCG, Shelley McGuinnes. Ms McGuinnes and her firm has undertaken similar projects on Rural Land Use Strategies for the shires of Campaspi and Moira in the state’s north, Greater Shepparton, Mildura and Colac-Otway and Surf Coast in the south west. Those with an interest in the draft Bass Coast Rural Land Use Strategy have until May 24, 2013 to make a submission, which can be sent to the Strategic Planner, Bass Coast Shire Council by email to: strategicplanning@basscoast.vic.gov.au