Specialising in the human experience of Living with prostate cancer – warts and all

Wanna buy a cheap block of land?

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The following letter was published in the King Valley Community Grapevine – Edition 175 – April 2008.

An Open Letter to People in the Rural City of Wangaratta

This letter is addressed to those in the Farming Zone community who own properties five acres or less, which were either subdivided or purchased prior to the introduction of the Farming Zone.

As the owner of a house on a 3 acre property affected by the Farming Zone, I am intent on putting forward a proposal at a convenient council meeting for an amendment to the Farming Zone regulations which currently restrict business activity only to agricultural pursuits and prohibit the erection of new dwellings on lots smaller than 100 acres.

I personally consider it unfair that my property should be zoned in with viable farms even though it was subdivided and purchased prior to the Farming Zone’s introduction, and was never intended to be a viable farm when it was subdivided and sold. For me it is virtually impossible to conduct a viable agricultural business on three acres unless I would like to live on a tiny sum such as is available to a subsistence farmer.

I regard farmers highly and indeed chose to live amongst farmers for the reason that ‘lifestyle’ actually exists amongst farming communities. But I am not a farmer and wouldn’t pretend to be, but I do have other valuable skills that I would like to capitalize on. As an example, I would like to be able to conduct some other form of business, such as one based on tourism, or a home based office for a building design practice, or a small joinery business, all of which can be assisted by the internet.

I was advised by a council employee that if I didn’t want to be a farmer then “You should sell up and move into town”. It didn’t seem to occur to that particular person that I have children at the local school, that I have no wish to leave a place I like to live in and that I can’t sell for a price commensurate with its value because no-one buying my land would be able to rebuild a house to their liking and can’t do anything other than farming, on three acres! This means that even if I wanted to sell up and leave, I could probably only sell to city folk for a holiday house, which means less children at the school and no contribution to the community outside rates payments.

It also means that the hordes of tourists who pass the end of my street are an untapped resource for me and my community via me and that my other skills will have to go elsewhere if I want to use them.

I wish to propose that lots five acres and smaller be exempted from the Farming Zone regulations on the grounds that far more viable and productive use of such existing small lots could be pursued and that agricultural pursuits are a ridiculous restriction to impose on lots of land so small.

I am also proposing that an exemption apply only to existing lots as I well respect the intention of the Farming Zone but that I think it unfair that the Zone be applied to existing properties for which the Farming Zone is so obviously unsuited and unfairly applied. I am not proposing that further subdivisions be allowed, only that owners of existing small subdivisions be enabled to use their land more productively, in ways other than farming.

If you are also in a similar position and are interested in signing in support of such a proposal being put to council, please respond to me in writing to Simon Doring at 196 Burders Lane Whitlands 3733 or to

I live on a 10 acre block and sympathise with Simon. Situated on the side of a gully with about a kilometre of semi-permanent creek meandering through it, this property was subdivided off because it was a liability to the cattle farmer mustering his animals and damaging the waterway.

The absurdity of it is that, with applying for the pension, I am allowed 5 hectares to live on and have to justify why the remaining five acres cannot be put to commercial use. They wanted me to value the remaining 5 acres as an asset and I refused on the grounds that I cannot subdivide it, I cannot farm it and I cannot get commercial water rights to the creek.  Like Simon, I had visions of tourist commercialism but came unstuck because of this stupid regulation.

The issue of small lots of unproductive farming land affects all municipalities, and Simon should be supported in his quest by those outside the Rural City of Wangaratta


Written by Greg Naylor

23 April 2008 at 8:54 am

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3 Responses

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  1. Absolutely Greg. This restriction on building dwellings on lots under 100 acres is insane and it applies in Alpine too – and we’re heavily dependent on tourism. Moreover there is an enormous demand out there for “lifestyle” properties among the treechangers from the cities and areas like ours are missing out on the wealth these new retirees and semi-retirees bring to our local economies.

    It’s got be changed and I’d go further than what the author proposes and suggest councils should reduce the 100 acre minimum down to 5 acres. They can then introduce planning overlays to ensure development is in keeping with the “rural feel” of the locale, which is meant to be the whole point of the legislation.


    24 April 2008 at 1:38 am

  2. I also agree with the sentiments here.My partner and I,along with our young son, have a modest house on 5.5 acres in Victoria.This property is within 13km of surf beach and close to nice bushland.It is cleared as it was formally part of farming land.We would very much like to be able to sell a small parcel of land to someone that wants a great place to set up a residential or holiday house,within an easy drive of beach,estuaries,tall timber & towns.We could have some much needed help with our mortgage and someone else could have a very good country lifestyle or weekender etc.Currently the land is not being used apart from of our neighbours sheep that we allow to graze on it.We have not even walked over most of our land and it is going to waste.It would be a win-win to be able to sell (or even lease long-term) some of our unneeded land.Better to cut up smaller parcels of land than to take a productive farm and subdivide it.

    Darren Lay

    4 July 2009 at 3:19 pm

  3. keeping strict zoning rules is important part of governments strategy of keeping prices high . is it a coincidence that shire coucillors are mostly real estate agents and property devellopers they want you to buy one of theyre blocks in town thank you very much!

    daniel mathieson

    4 May 2012 at 3:15 pm

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