Secondary dwellings in rural areas of Tweed Shire and the trigger for water restrictions were tow key factors under discussion at last nights Tweed Shire Council meeting.
The issue of separate dual occupancies on rural lots under ten hectares has been under discussion with a strong push for it from some quarters who claim they are representing farmers needs. Councillors Waren Polglse and Pryce Allsop (conservative) had put forward a Rural Housing Proposal to the 22 October council meeting that would update the proposed Rural Lands Strategy (RLS) to allow detached dual occupancy dwellings of any size to be built on small rural properties. On the vote of Councillor James Owen (Liberal) at the last council meeting the issue had been sent to a workshop for further discussion.
The Rural Lands Strategy (RLS) was passed at last nights meeting without the amendment.
‘We voted to move ahead strategically ahead on the actions from the Rural Land Strategy and prioritise those actions that relate to helping create more secondary dwellings and dual occupancies in these areas in response to the call from some sections of our rural community,’ Mayor Chris Cherry told The echo.
‘Cr Owen put forward the approach that has been recommended by both the Department of Planning and the Department of Primary Industries and he gained support from a majority of Councillors.
‘There will always be landowners who think Council can simply flick a switch and suddenly make secondary dwellings and dual occs permissible but they simply don’t understand the planning system. The state government have become more strategic in their planning in the last few years and require a program of steps to occur before changes are made to increase housing on rural lands and we are now following that process so that is good news for all rural landowners.’
Councillors also voted to create a Rural Lands Advisory Committee in Council so that they can have a direct group of farmers who can provide advice on the issues facing rural landowners and how to best support agriculture in the Tweed.
‘I envisage it will have the wisdom of the cane farmers, who are economically our most significant farming community in the Tweed, the dairy industry, fruit and vegetable growers and of course representatives from agri-tourism businesses. There is so much knowledge out there in the community that can help advise Council on the future of rural lands in the Tweed,’ says Mayor Cherry.
The Council also decided to move the trigger point for bringing in Level 1 water restrictions from when dam levels are at 75 per cent to 85 per cent.
‘Level one restrictions relate mostly to limiting the outside watering you can do in the garden,’ said Mayor Cherry.
‘If we introduce them earlier, we can delay bringing in the higher and much more restrictive levels because we will be using water more slowly. It is a positive thing for the management of the water supply and I think our community, who are pretty water wise, will embrace it. Our dam is currently at 93.5 per cent so this is not a consideration for now, but we wanted to get it in place as you never know how the summer will be.’