Construction of rural cabins and farm stays in Acting Mayor’s sights

Paul Bibby

The practice of building rural cabins and farmstays in order to cash in on tourism in the Shire would be significantly restricted under a proposal to be voted on at this week’s Byron Council meeting.

Acting mayor Michael Lyon (Greens) has proposed removing the ‘rural cabin’ provisions from the Local Environmental Plan 1988 and Local Environmental Plan 2014, and restricting the farmstay provisions in these policies.

This would mean that cabins and farmstays could only be built in the Shire’s rural areas if they were small-scale structures and operations associated with the ‘primary production and environmental conservation of the land’.

In his written notice of motion, Cr Lyon said the increasingly popular practice of building rural cabins and farmstays had created a series of problems in the hinterland.

‘[It] has resulted in the further fragmentation of our valuable farmland, a rise in land-use conflict, visual impacts, and an increased demand on local services and infrastructure from visitor numbers to our hinterland and rural areas,’ Cr Lyon said.

‘Notably, these development types do not generate additional rates for or pay contributions to Council.’

Cr Lyon said that under the two policies, a rural landowner could conceivably make a development application (DA) for a dwelling house, a secondary dwelling, a dual-occupancy dwelling, a farmstay and rural cabins on the same piece of land. 

This had the potential to enable 14-plus buildings for habitation or tourist use on a single holding.

‘Many farmstays and rural cabins are being listed as “short-term holiday lets” in their own right without a host and without any bona fide primary production being undertaken on the land,’ he said.

‘Some are also conducting weddings and events (currently prohibited in rural zones), to supplement and, in a majority of cases, provide the primary income from the use of the land.’

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