Don’t allow unlimited function venues on rural zoned land
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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:
- Critical unannounced changes to the planning provisions that mean landowners can now earn more from their agritourism venture (function venues) than from their primary production business, subverting the actual intention of the initiative
- The rush of exempt and complying development will overwhelm councils’ limited compliance resources. This will result in the proliferation of significant levels of unregulated commercial activity in the rural environment.
- Loss of protections for surrounding local land owners
- Biosecurity risks
- Lack of council control over where these venues can ‘pop up’
- A potential for an explosion of venues with no local council planning controls
- Loss of amenity and rural tranquility for visiting tourists
- There will be nobody to investigate complaints or action regulatory matters, so rural residents will be told their only option is to initiate court proceedings when the inevitable exponential growth of non-compliant activity commences.
- Impact to already severely damaged local roads, not designed for heavy traffic flows
- The new Agritourism exempt and complying planning provisions are being rushed in on 1 December BEFORE they have been reviewed and implications understood. This is alarming as infrastructure will be built, before impacts are known. Once constructed erosion of landscape, character and liveability is complete it will be too late to unwind
- Essential applicability mapping for areas within each council region has not been undertaken or been part of any consultation or engagement. There are very significant local level impacts that require local level support and execution
The NSW State Government Dept of Planning needs to realise:
- Its false claim that that there has been “extensive community consultation” for the Agritourism reforms must be retracted
- Its reneging on assurances provided to councils that they could opt out of the reforms if they had concerns represents a disgraceful betrayal of trust that will inflict great harm on rural communities
- Each region is unique and deserves to be treated as such. Not all regions in NSW have the same land parcel sizes nor the same topography
- Not all regions have the same tourism requirements – some need a boost to tourism – some have adequate levels of tourism
- Land owners and communities should be able to have a say on development that has direct impacts on them
- Not all ‘primary producers’ are family farmers dedicated to their communities who care about their neighbours and their relationships
- Real farmers have not been consulted. Productive farmland will be fragmented as absentee owners, with no interest in farming, buy up rural land and use ‘agritourism’ businesses to generate their primary income
- These absentee investors/developers don’t live onsite so won’t have any of the negative repercussions of living with a function venue on their doorstep every weekend
- Rural roads often lack two-way all-weather access and cannot safely accommodate very large increases in traffic
- Increased numbers of people, potentially alcohol affected, in bushfire and flood prone areas, is a recipe for disaster
- The ‘development standards’, meant to limit the numbers of function guests and number of campers/caravans, cannot be monitored and are therefore unenforceable
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