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Raw deal for rural landholders

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30 Oct 08

RCoW oversteps it’s authority



The Chronicle reported (page 15) that council knocked back a subdivision to  create three boutique vineyards for fear of a residential ‘enclave’ in a rural area.

Just who the hell do they think they are?  State government planning regulations prohibit building residences on blocks less than 40 hectares to preserve prime agricultural land.  Yet each of these blocks was to be larger than the requirement being 471 hectares divided into nine lots.

Council’s planning officers feel the proposal could impact on existing agricultural uses.  How could that be when the land is already under vine cultivation by Beechworth Vineyards?

The RCoW bureaucrazy has a fetish prohibiting ‘lifestyle uses’ being allowed in agricultural areas and, sooner or later, this issue must be confronted.  In this instance, allowing residences on boutique winery properties – above the minimun acreage – could hardly be classified as ‘lifestyle uses’ when, in fact it is obviously rural housing for the farm workers employed in these businesses.

As the economy and employment opportunities shrink, it would be advantageoud to these new boutique winery businesses to provide on site rural housing for their workers.

Fifty years ago, during the tobacco boom, the only way they could retain workers was to provide housing as there was no public transport available and the wages were a pittance.  Nothing has changed.

The application was supported by Goulburn Murray Water and the CFA yet objections about water and fire access made it easier for the bureaucrats to say NO.  It took nine pages of the Council Minutes to rationalise this stupid decision.

At the same council meeting, a second proposal to build on three existing lots on land in Greta zoned rural was also knocked back (page 13)

“Without the intervention of planning controls, over time the locality could become a major defacto rural living area with significant impact on the agricultural versatility of the land and upon council and other authorities to provide the necessary infrastructure

The RCoW Local Planning Policy Framework & Municipal Strategic Statement Clause 21.05 – Rural Land use and Agriculture acknowledges how important the agricultural industry is to the municipality. This clause states:

“Although subdivision may potentially impact on the productive performance of rural land, the construction and use of housing in some areas has led to the loss of agricultural use and generated conflict between rural and lifestyle uses.

Both subdivision and rural housing must provide for and retain the agricultural use of the land. Any subdivision and rural housing proposals in higher agricultural productivity and versatility areas need to be directly linked to an agricultural use, retain productive agricultural use of the land and area, protect the economic potential of the land and area for agriculture, and not be used for rural lifestyle purposes.”

“Subdivision and housing in rural areas can lead to difficulty in funding, provision and maintenance of services such as roads, electricity and water supply.

Infrastructure may be required or be supplemented through contributions for rural subdivision and housing. Any rural subdivision and housing proposals must assess and provide infrastructure as required, including practical and legal access for service providers if needed. Rural uses in rural areas operate on a right to farm principle, allowing existing agricultural and rural uses to legally operate and continue irrespective of adjoining or nearby uses.”

And there you have it!  The Rural City of Wangaratta will sacrifice rural development because they might have to contribute to the cost of infrastructure.

So much for the RCoW 2030 Vision for the outlying areas.

In the Indigo shire, concerned residents have started a movement to have their planning laws changed.  For further details about the group contact Mr Bird at or telephone 0409 052 797.


Written by Greg Naylor

4 November 2008 at 12:00 am

Posted in social comment

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