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Byron Shire
February 5, 2023

Agritourism policy forced upon LGAs

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The NSW Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) has ignored Byron Shire Council’s urgent request to delay the forced adoption of the NSW government’s agritourism policy. The policy came into effect last week in all local government areas (LGAs).

The NSW Minister for Planning, Anthony Roberts (Liberal) said in a press release the statewide agritourism policy allows farmers to ‘diversify their income by including agritourism experiences’ through a ‘fast-tracked, [process] or without planning approvals’. This could include, ‘farm stays, cafes, cellar doors, retreats, roadside stalls, fruit picking, or small wedding venues’.

Weddings are among the activities now approved under NSW governments agritoursim policy.

Land use conflicts

Roberts’ press release did not include details around how potential land use conflicts would be managed, and by whom. Potential environmental impacts were also not addressed.

Roberts says, ‘Landowners wanting to diversify their income will be able to start an agritourism business without lodging a development application (DA), as long as conditions are met.’

Shannon Burt, Director Sustainable Environment and Economy confirmed with The Echo that the DPE ‘did not agree’ to Council’s request to be omitted from the policy.

She says the delay was requested so staff could review the changes, ‘and how they will impact planning and development in the Byron Shire’. Burt adds that a ‘report will be on the agenda for the meeting on December 15’.

Councillors voted unanimously at their October 27, 2022 meeting to ‘urgently and strongly’ confirm with the DPE that [Byron] wishes to opt out of the policy ‘until such time as we conduct our own review of where the provisions/ clauses could be appropriate’.

Not only did the DPE ignore Council’s request to be omitted from the policy, but it appears the DPE failed to include Council’s strong objection to the policy within the Submissions and Survey Analysis Report that underpins the policy.

The Echo asked the DPE ‘Was there a reason for this?’

The reply was ‘Byron Shire Council’s feedback was included in the submissions report, and considered as part of our finalisation of the policy’.

The sparse ‘feedback’ by Byron Council in the Submissions and Survey Analysis Report did not include any objection or request for delayed policy adoption. 

When asked how this new policy will affect Council’s rural wedding policy, the DPE spokesperson replied, ‘Under the agritourism policy, weddings can be held 52 days per year, with 50 guests without planning approval, or with a complying development certificate approved by council or a registered certifier if there is building work involved.

‘If a proposal doesn’t meet these requirements, the farmer can lodge a DA either for a temporary function centre under Council’s planning rules or they can lodge a DA for farm experience premises under the agritourism policy’.


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2 COMMENTS

  1. This is the best news the Shire has had in the decade I’ve lived here.
    Finally landowners will be allowed to use the land without having to deal with the corrupt overlords in Byron council. There’s even talk that the NSW government is going to take the entire DA process away from the council, since they will not allow anyone to do anything.
    You have to be pretty bad for the state government to be like “wow, we can’t believe how terrible you are, we need to take over”. There is light at the end of the tunnel.

  2. most of the shire rural zones (anywhere west of coolamon scenic drive) you can’t do complying development due to being in water catchment zone so most of those complying development items won’t apply.

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