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Byron Shire
May 13, 2021

Dual occupancy supported for Lismore farms

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Lismore farmers may soon be able to ‘age in place’ if the state government approves a new LEP amendment passed at last night’s council meeting.

The change would allow for detached dual occupancy and boundary adjustments in RU1 Primary Production zones, similar to the rules that currently permit the construction of granny flats in urban areas.

Only the Greens’ councillor Ekins voted against the amendment, saying she believed it was subdivision by stealth.

Julie Rhodes of Eltham Valley Pantry used public access time to show her support of the LEP amendment and criticised the current situation.

‘The existing rural house entitlement of one house per one hundred acres of farmland is based on an old English dairy farm standard and has consequently lost relevance for today’s Lismore local government area (LGA),’ Ms Rhodes said.

‘It is really important to distinguish between subdivision and an additional construction of a dwelling, as subdivision of rural land can lead to fragmentation and rural land use conflict.’

Ms Rhodes acknowledged ageing farmers would be the main beneficiaries of the amendment.

‘Many farmers are ageing and considering leaving the land,’ she said. ‘The additional housing entitlement will allow more family members to live on the farm and take over the farming enterprise without parents having to leave the farm for aged care. The opportunity to transition the management of the farm will be less likely to result in fragmentation of rural lands and the continuation of farming and food production.

 

Supplementary income

Cr Ekins argued that farm succession was not behind the community’s desire for additional dwellings and that income was the main driver.

‘I went to all the Imagine Lismore consultations and it seemed to me that supplementary income or not wanting to share the house with the kids was the reason for the extra house; it was not about continuing farming operations at all.

‘One of the things that I – and the visitors to this area – love is the paddocks. In the 20 years I have been here, more houses are starting to appear along the road; now it is like ribbon development. If this is approved, we will see so many more houses.

‘I think it is a very informal type of subdivision. We are putting more houses on farms, which our last LEP prevented us from doing.

‘Okay, so people are ageing and want to age on their farms. So what do we do when age? We have to go somewhere or convince family to look after us. So why is it different for the farming community?’ Cr Ekins asked.

LCC’s strategic planning coordinator Paula Newman acknowledged that the Imagine Lismore consultation indicated that people enjoyed the rural character and the natural environment but added that ‘dual occupancy is already permitted in rural zones, but at present they need to be attached’.

In response to Cr Ekins’s comments about outcomes of the Imagine Lismore process, Cr Neil Marks said he perceived them differently.

‘Imagine Lismore was the most important consultation that this council has ever done,’ he said. ‘I heard people saying they needed their family to come and help work the property or have people come in and help.’

Cr Simon Clough supported the proposal but failed to move an amendment that would limit any dominant ridgeline development.

‘Nothing destroys the rural landscape faster than building on ridgelines,’ said Cr Clough.

Although Cr Marks agreed, he told Council that ‘most farmhouses that you see are already on the ridgelines. Most of these houses have been built near the roads, which are mostly built on the ridgeline. If we are asking people to build within a hundred metres of the main dwelling, then it will be on the ridgeline.’

Cr Greg Bennett added that ‘usually the worst agricultural land is on the ridgeline, so dwelling construction is not compromising the best agricultural land’.

Income streams for farmers weighed in on the debate as Cr Bennett said, ‘… farming income is not rising; it hasn’t risen for decades. So having the extra income means that some farms may stay viable. So if you want to maintain the way our rural areas look, this is one way we can help.’

Lismore City Council (LCC) will now await a state government gateway determination to allow the planning proposal to amend the Lismore Local Environment Plan (LEP) 2012.

 


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6 COMMENTS

  1. I am concerned that, if the extra houses are on separate title, then they can be sold (after the ‘aged’ farmer has passed on?) to non rural background people who then complain about the farming practices and cause major problems for farmers and council. If separate title is granted, then the titles need to contain a covenant that states that the owners cannot complain about ‘best practice’ farm operations in their vicinity. I have seen examples where the neighboring farm had to cease their viticulture operations and sell the farm and re establish elsewhere because the next door farmer sold off his ‘concession’ block to city people who then complained about the viticulture operations – noise, spraying, etc.

  2. I find it puzzling that the Greens Councilor would oppose this move on income grounds. The whole area desperately needs more affordable housing and when people rent or buy in a rural area they do not want to live attached or too close to other dwellings. This move benefits farmers, reduces housing stress, helps the building industry and will keep farms producing food with less financial stress meaning farmers can choose to farm less intensively and with less inputs like fertilisers or pesticides/herbicides.
    The Greens objection that it will spoil the rural landscape seems a little like Latte sipping socialism. Spare a thought for the many people in the Byron and Lismore areas who struggle to find affordable housing. 100 acres for just ONE house is waste of land use and infrastructure.

  3. Wonderful, sensible news! I am concerned that the Greens member so usually in line with community opinion is not open to the benefits of this situation – i agree subdivision by stealth will need to be monitored but baby boomers having to leave the land they have loved and nurtured because of age and the children not being able to have their own family on such large acreage is an unhealthy situation for everyone. Drastic reduction of quality of life and grief for the seniors, grandchildren lose the benefit of close interaction with grandparents and children have the awful dilemma of what to do! This area should champion healthy community ageing in a progressive and environmentally sensitive way. (Living with attached dwellings is not realistic in this day of independent living).

  4. Dual occupancy, multiple occupancy…better utilisation of those 100acre [or like in ha] the better….Clusters of homes on rural properties-makes sense to me & i dont agree that it looks like ribbon development.
    Yes-pop them on the ridgelines for the views [like who doesnt prefer a view!!] & leaving arable flat land is also sensible…
    And i so do not go to the country to look at bare paddocks–I actually prefer to see tree-d paddocks & total bush..

  5. Richard Swinton’s letter expressing concern over ‘houses on separate title’ is really a non-starter. Title is over the land-not the house. Land is only titled if it has been subdivided and/or sold and is now Torrens registered as a separate entity. None of this was even mentioned in the article.

    Also, the remark concerning complaints from the neighbours of the vineyard… NSW now has a ‘Caveat Emptor’ clause specifically to deal with new tenants not liking the activities of legacy tenant neighbours. The law says ‘Tough Shit’…you don’t like your neighbour’s noise, smell, religion, etc GO BUY SOMEWHERE ELSE.

    This legislation makes great sense; especially for large tract owners who are hamstrung by archaic laws. I own a 37 acre old growth Macadamia farm that is no longer economically viable due to the age of the trees, more modern cross breed nuts that produce greater yields- but more odious: being told that because my trees are planted ‘old style’ 3m by 3m and too close for the current harvesting machinery, OSHA will no longer permit manual labour to collect the nuts…so i have effectively been legislated out of business with NO compensation or relief from the Gov’t! And getting a DA to cut down 1000+ trees? Sure! To clear for cows? Sure! The wallabies love it, as do the residents of Mullum enjoy the water from my catchment area! But it is a one way financial pit for me…Why should the Shire get 37 acres of pesticide free water catchment along with a wildlife preserve for koala, etc. when i get negative gearing?

  6. Smaller acreage ( below 100 acres )should also be considered depending on location
    with strict guidelines..There definately needs to be a change to current rules….pensioners are affected with farm ownership as well..many ageing land owners do not want to relocate….

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