Farm zone housing still a ripe issue

Olive growers in Pastoria’s east have argued their produce, animals and farm plan would suffer without the constant on-ground care that a house on their property would allow them to deliver.
The couple recently lost an appeal to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal for a building permit at their 16.25 hectare Langley-Baynton Road property which sits within the Farming Zone.
The pair had plans to extend their 600-tree olive grove by 400 trees and introduce animals to implement a sustainable farm plan but failed to prove the need for full-time living at the property in the eyes of VCAT member G Rundell.
Macedon Ranges Shire Council refused the permit in December last year stating that the proposal would further fragment existing farming land and without “safeguarding the continuation of agricultural pursuits in favour of net community benefit”.
The dispute repeats the history of multiple producers challenging the state government policy that no home can be built on land less than 40 hectares in the Farming Zone unless proven essential for farming use of the land.
“There has been considerable debate in planning over many years as to the gap between the rural lifestyle dream and the reality of living on a relatively large rural property. The dreams are often not implemented,” Mr Rundell said.
“The outcome is often that the plans for sustainable living and local production are scaled down or deferred to other times due to limited time, energy and financial resources.”
Mr Rundell said consequences for farmers could include increasing land prices making it more expensive for farmers to lease or buy additional land to create larger holdings.
“I think it is most likely that the small lot would be used primarily as a dwelling permanently and consequently removed from agriculture,” Mr Rundell said.
“It cannot be assumed that because a permit can be granted, it should be granted.”
The member said no permit was required for the applicants to carry out their sustainable farm plan.

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