_REFORMED RURAL ZONES
Planning Minister Matthew Guy recently released the final version of the reformed rural zones. The rural zones are the final set of zones to be released under the State Government’s zone reform program. This last set of reformed zones includes the Farming Zone, Rural Activity Zone, Rural Conservation Zone, Rural Living Zone, Green Wedge Zone and Green Wedge A Zone.
The amended zones are expected to support the agricultural industry while at the same time permitting further tourism related developments. Minister Guy has stated that the amended zones will support population retention in rural communities and provide councils with the ability to consider previously prohibited uses on their merits.
The major changes to the zones include:
- making almost all agricultural uses as of right in rural zones;
- permitting primary produce sales and rural stores;
- allowing permits to be granted for primary and secondary schools;
- increasing permit thresholds for extensions to dwellings, outbuildings and agricultural buildings to cut red tape and reduce the number of permit applications;
- allowing bed and breakfasts to accommodate up to ten people in the Farming Zone, Rural Conservation Zone and Rural Activity Zone.
There is some concern within the community that the amended zones will lead to further land fragmentation and loss of productive agricultural land, particularly within the Farming and Rural Conservation zones. While commercial development in the Green Wedge zones will remain limited, requirements for tourism uses to be in conjunction with agriculture or rural industry have been removed from the Farming and Rural Conservation zones to encourage commercial development. The increase to the number of permit required uses has the potential to increase the number of appeals being lodged at VCAT.
The revised rural zones will replace the existing zones and will come into effect on 5 September 2013. Further information about the amended rural zones can be found at: