Keep Agritourism Regulated

Don’t allow unlimited function venues on rural zoned land

Noise and Light Pollution: Function on Rural Zoned Land at night

Function venues are currently prohibited on rural zoned land.

The new Agritourism legislation will allow function venues to ‘pop up’ on ANY primary production rural land in NSW.

There could be multiple function venues on rural properties right next door to each other.

Up to 52 events per year are allowed on each site, Friday and Saturday nights, operating until 12am.

No one will be able to object to these function venues and there are NO DA’s REQUIRED.

The changes will also allow other currently prohibited activities to occur on rural zoned land including:

Multiple campers and caravans – 20 people and 6 caravans at a time for up to 21 days each visit

Construction of large permanent structures – Up to 200sqm each and 500sqm for multiple structures

Up to 100 visitors at any one time – Potentially hundreds per day to function venues & ‘farm gate’ activities

This is not Agritourism, this is unregulated camping and wedding function venues under the guise of Agritourism

What will the changes bring

A threat to biosecurity

A threat to food security 

Negative impacts on native flora and fauna

Negative impacts on livestock surrounding the Agritourism venue

Loss of rural landscape and amenity for locals and visitors

Negative impacts on neighbouring primary producers

Tourist oversaturation

Compliance nightmare

What we are asking for: 

  • Keep Agritourism regulated
  • Keep the current controls in place
  • Allow the community to continue to have a say on the development that happens around them that will have a direct impact on them
  • Allow individual councils to decide if they want the Agritourism changes or not
  • Agritourism should remain an opt in system. Not just through zoning but on a mapping basis identifying relevant areas across council regions. 

Don’t let the disconnected pencil pushers and keyboard warriors in the city control what happens in our rural zoned areas

The Issue

Multiple local councils along the coast want to make changes to the new Agritourism legislation to suit their specific regions and circumstances and were assured they could do so. The NSW State Government Department of Planning (DPE) has now stopped them.

The Background

In March, many councils decided to make amendments to the Agritourism reforms and were assured by the DPE they would be permitted to do so. However, on October 5, the DPE reneged on its assurances, mandating inclusion of the land uses across NSW from Dec 1st.

While councils are generally supportive of genuine farm-related activities (food and wine trails, farm stays, farmers markets, farm gate experiences) they are very concerned by the addition of activities unrelated to farming, such as function centres for weddings and conferences.

They are also alarmed that the DPE is allowing the construction of large function centres without council scrutiny and that they have removed the ability of neighbours to object.

Why this is happening

The Berry Forum, a community consultative body in the Shoalhaven says:

We believe the State Government’s Agritourism changes have been hijacked by developers who persuaded the Planning Minister to make highly controversial land uses permissible in all NSW rural areas. The adverse repercussions for biosecurity, food security, road safety and rural amenity will be severe as councils are overwhelmed by complaints from rural residents.

In an article by Paul Bibby in The Byron Shire Echo on Oct 26 2022:

In a thinly veiled attempt to curry favour with the National Party’s rapidly eroding voter base ahead of the upcoming election, the government is creating a series of ‘development pathways’ for agriculture-related tourism operations.

The government says agritourism presents a multi-billion-dollar opportunity for the NSW economy, and has declared that the policy will be in place by December 23. But the policy is now effectively being forced through without any chance for local councils to adapt the provisions to the particular needs of their communities.

Current Legislation

The current legislation prohibits permanent function venues on rural zoned land. It allows applications for temporary function centres. The community can object to these based on the direct impacts those centres will have on the surrounding area. Construction of any buildings on rural lands is via the usual development channels.

Planned changes:

The new Agritourism legislation will allow function venues to operate on any primary production rural land, regardless of size and remove the ability to object to these function venues, ie: they can pop up anywhere on rural zoned properties, even next door to each other.

Farm ‘Experience’ venues (function and wedding venues) can have 50 visitors any one time; 52 days a year; 8am to 12am (Fri/Sat). They can use an existing building or construct a new one (200sqm).

Farm gate premises can use an existing building or construct a new one (200sqm) and have 100 visitors at any one time; 8am to 5pm, 7 days a week.

Combined ventures can have multiple buildings up to 500sqm and 100 visitors at any one time; 8am to 5pm 7 days.

Farm stays can have; 20 guests in total; including 6 caravans/campervans; 21 days each visit; on properties over 15ha. They can use up to 60sqm of existing accommodation or construct up to 6 new buildings.

The Councils that want to opt out include:

These councils have many reasons for wanting to opt out, these include:

The NSW State Government Dept of Planning needs to realise:

Call to Action

It’s never too late to have your say

Reasonable Agritourism should be able to proceed but keep the protections and keep it regulated.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Our communities continues to speak up against function centres and excessive farm stay and tourist accommodation on rural lands for good reason, the preservation of agriculture and rural life for themselves, their local economies and for future generations.