Dwellings on <40ha farming zone properties

Discussion in 'Designing, building, making and powering your life' started by emilyjane, Mar 29, 2012.

  1. emilyjane

    emilyjane Junior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2012
    Messages:
    37
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Hi all,

    just wondering if anyone has any advice on getting a permit for a dwelling on farming zoned land that's around 3.5ha in Victoria (we're looking to buy this land, but only if we could live on it). I'm still waiting for a call back from the council for more information from them.

    We want to produce all our own food on the land, and as far as I can tell that counts as agricultural use (it doesn't specify anywhere that it has to be commercial agriculture but if anyone has any info to the contrary that would be good to know).

    We don't want to build anything big, and I think we would have a case for the dwelling being necessary for the running of the farm.

    Has anyone been through this process or know much about it?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    Emily
     
  2. BobDa

    BobDa New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2012
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Hi Emilyjane,

    We were recently looking at the same idea and I found a fair bit of information from the council website. Obviously the rules change from council to council so it would depend where you are looking to purchase. One thing I did find out though is people have sued council's over prohibiting building permits and won so it seems to be up in the air awaiting a final ruling at the moment. Best thing you could do is ring the council concerned and make a few enquires. Good luck!
     
  3. JustEcila

    JustEcila Junior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2012
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Hi Emily,
    First check with the seller/agent for a copy of Section 149 certificate. Any property up for sale will have this in the contract. This certificate will tell you if the said land has a dwelling permission. If not, then check with the appropriate council website on how to apply for a dwelling permission on the said land. Sounds like building permission has not being granted otherwise it will be a sale feature. You do not always get entitlement to a dwelling on land zoned farming; so check with council first. Of course there are ways to get around getting a dwelling nevertheless in the form of 'shed' converted later???
    Good luck
    Justecila
     
  4. gardenlen

    gardenlen Group for banned users

    Joined:
    May 14, 2004
    Messages:
    3,464
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    approach the local council emily,

    or talk to a company that builds homes.

    len
     
  5. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2005
    Messages:
    2,922
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    0
    G'day (again) Emily

    The Victorian Planning Provisions (VPPs) set the general rules (there are, however, some isolated exceptions occurring at the municipal level) for the 'use and development' of Farming Zone (FZ) land in Victoria.

    If you have not already studied the above, I suggest that you do, and that you do it very carefully and thoroughly. In addition, please be aware that many municipalities also require that planning permit applications - such as the one you are proposing - respond to individual local planning policies that are concerned with the construction of dwellings in 'rural' areas. These policies are contained in the Local Planning Polices Framework (LPPF) section of any said municipality's Planning Scheme. An example being, from my local Planning Scheme: Rural Dwellings Policy.

    In sum, it can be done. That is, you may obtain a planning permit for the construction of a dwelling in the FZ on land
     
  6. emilyjane

    emilyjane Junior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2012
    Messages:
    37
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Thank you very much everyone, your advice is much appreciated. We'll continue to harass the council - they still haven't returned my call - and keep researching.

    Will let you all know what happens...
     
  7. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2005
    Messages:
    2,922
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    0
    G'day Emily

    'Harassing' your local statutory planner could prove to be counter-productive, as it may be the very same person (or someone close to them) who will be assessing any eventual application that you may make, and you really do want to get this person (people) onside, rather than off. When you called, what did you inquire about? Did you provide them with an actual site, or did you just make vague references to any/all land in the FZ? If the latter, the planner really cannot help you with specifics (as I have previously mentioned, as each site has its own peculiar planning characteristics). Rather, the best they could do in this regard is to point you in the direction that I have above, to the FZ ordinance, and to any local policies that they may have operating within the FZ. If indeed it was the former, and you did provide them with actual site details, then it would not be unreasonable to expect a local planner to respond to your phone inquiry within 24 (business) hours. Did you actually get to speak to a planner, or perhaps just someone on a switchboard? Sometimes, particularly in smaller municipalities, there may only be only one or two planners in attendance, so it may take a day or two for someone to get back to you. If in a larger municipality, generally speaking there is a planner (or even a couple of para-planners) rostered on to give direct advice during business hours. If you provide me with the name of the municipality you are making inquiries with, I may be able to help you with better understanding the 'culture' of their planning department, as I am across quite a few of them during my work.

    On the issue of 'growing your own food', and that counting as 'agricultural use', together with a general reading of the scheme, please allow me to elaborate a little on the specifics of the FZ ordinance:

    Clause 35.07 states:

    The purpose of the FZ is (not necessarily in any particular order):

    To implement the State Planning Policy Framework and the Local Planning Policy Framework, including the Municipal Strategic Statement and local planning policies.

    This means, that any eventual planning application that you may make, must further the implementation of the State Planning Policy Framework (SPPF), the Local Planning Policy Framework (LPPF), the Municipal Strategic Statement (MSS) and local planning policies (both of which will be particular to your local Planning Scheme) as they relate to the use of your particular site (less than the default 40ha) together with any development that you propose (dwelling, etc.).

    To provide for the use of land for agriculture. To encourage the retention of productive agricultural land.

    'Agriculture' is defined in the Victorian Planning Provisions (VPPs) at Clause 74 as:

    Land used to:
    a) propagate, cultivate or harvest plants, including cereals, flowers, fruit, seeds, trees, turf, and vegetables;
    b) keep, breed, board, or train animals, including livestock, and birds; or
    c) propagate, cultivate, rear, or harvest living resources of the sea or inland waters.


    As long as you propose to do any/all of the above on your approx 3.5ha, then you are considered (according to the VPPs) to be undertaking 'agricultural' practices.

    Take careful note also of the second sentence, here the emphasis is on 'encouraging the retention of productive agricultural land'. This means, you first have to ascertain if the proposed site is indeed considered to be 'productive agricultural land'. It is at this point of your research where you will need to take note of Clause 72, because it is here where the VPPs define three very important topics:

    'Agricultural production' is:

    Any form of primary production of renewable commodities. It does not include extractive industry, mining, or timber production from native forest.

    'High quality productive agricultural land' is (my emphasis in bold):

    Land which is used for animal husbandry or crop raising, and is capable of continuing to sustain agricultural production, and:
    a) is of prime, or very good, agricultural quality, having regard to soil type, growing season, and availability of infrastructure, and is of sufficient extent to support agricultural activities on an economically viable scale; or
    b) has been identified through a regional, sub-regional, or local study as being of particularly good quality and strategic significance for agriculture in the regional or local context.


    'Land capability assessment' is:

    The assessment of the physical ability of the land to sustain specific uses having regard to its management, and without long term on-site detriment to the environment.

    To ensure that non-agricultural uses, particularly dwellings, do not adversely affect the use of land for agriculture.

    The above purpose of the FZ will be very important to any eventual application that you may make, too. This is because you will need to show (justify) that your proposed dwelling poses no 'adverse affect to the use of land for agriculture'. Many things need to be considered here, and it will be the local policy (such as the one I mentioned in my original post) where you will go to for direct guidance in making your application. Or, if no local policy exists (not all - especially smaller municipalities - have one), then you will need to rely solely on Clause 35.07-2 of the FZ ordinance, the 'use of land for a dwelling' in making your application.

    To encourage use and development of land based on comprehensive and sustainable land management practices and infrastructure provision.

    In responding to this purpose (objective) of the FZ ordinance, you will need to justify in your application that the use and development you propose is based on 'comprehensive and sustainable land management practices and infrastructure provision'. This often means (some municipalities require one as part of their local policy, as previously mentioned in my original post) that you will have to prepare an Environmental Management Plan (EMP), or similar. This is where your knowledge and skills of/in permaculture will come to the fore. Here is an example of a Guidelines for the Preparation of an EMP. You'll note on the final page that Darren Doherty (a highly skilled and very knowledgable permaculture practitioner) is in the 'list of consultants who prepare EMPs'.

    To protect and enhance natural resources and the biodiversity of the area

    In general, see my response to the above purpose.

    I realise that I have now given you much to read and think about. However, I hope that you find much of what I have given you of interest, and more importantly, of value. Please try to understand that your local planner is not your enemy, and that permaculture practitioners and planners are all trying to 'read from the same book' in order to make our world a better place.

    Any questions/comments - please feel free to post them here in the interests of all who frequent this board.

    Cheerio, Markos.
     
  8. emilyjane

    emilyjane Junior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2012
    Messages:
    37
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Thanks again, Markos.

    With regard to contacting the council I left a message on the answering machine of the person I was directed to last Thursday and never received a call back, so I haven't yet had a chance to speak to anyone directly about this yet.

    Luckily, in the meantime, we have been able to find a farm zoned property (12 acres) in a shire that has realised it's in their best interests to let people build houses on those small properties, which will hopefully save us a lot of time. We've been told by the estate agent that there is council approval for building a residence on there, but we're waiting to see the section 32 before getting too excited! I did speak to someone in their council this morning who confirmed that they have been giving out building permits for houses on small farming zoned properties in that area (all of the surrounding properties to the one we looked at, which are all zoned farming, had newish houses on them).

    The small farming zoned properties can be really cheap, which is why we've been looking at them - both my husband and I are self-employed so getting a loan for a large amount of money is out of the question. It's a bit of a catch 22, though, because banks don't like giving out loans for farming zoned properties. We've spoken to both ANZ and NAB and so far ANZ have been much better to deal with, they have said that if we can provide them with evidence that there is approval for building a dwelling then they will treat the loan as one for a rural residential property rather than a farming zoned one and we can get up to 80% of the property price. NAB would still consider lending to us, but would only give up to 70% of the property price.

    I'll keep everyone updated on what happens because if it works out, it's a great way for people to find cheap land to start a permaculture project!
     
  9. emilyjane

    emilyjane Junior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2012
    Messages:
    37
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    oh and a lot of people on this forum are probably aware of this blog, if not check it out, it's got some great ideas on it http://tinyhouseblog.com/
     
  10. gardenlen

    gardenlen Group for banned users

    Joined:
    May 14, 2004
    Messages:
    3,464
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    we jsut passed our final inspection, our home is 54sq/mt's, he was telling us that he just did a final for a lady for 36sq/mt home and another for 42sq/mt's. this bloke is a human type person not many of them in the annuls of who knows best and who can make life difficult when you go to build, like us he is a "live and let live" person, he was saying he went to a bloke who was living in a shed and he got out of his air conditioned car and the day was a hot humid day, and he stood in what this bloke called home and though if this is all this person can afford who is he (the certifier) to cause this chap to be turfed out of his very humble abode.

    i started a thread in another sustainable forum about families with nowhere to live and around us in say a 3sq/km area there would be at least 10 nice looking sheds just sitting there, and all i got was someone who claims to be an adviser supporting the council actually said living in a shed was dangerous to do so would cost one their life, wow talk about indoctrinated to support the gov and earn money, no flexibility. reckon she needs a life. needles to say that person was the only one to respond shows there isn't much compassion for the has been's hey? i say look after humans first and foremost not the ego's of men, living in a shed kills wow. we've got our new neighbours like that what is right for them not right for someone else.

    people here live in sheds because in the past it was allowable now to force house costs up it isn't ok. mind you i'm talking about steel build and properly designed sheds on slabs with shower and toilet, not a slab wood cabin.

    len
     
  11. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2005
    Messages:
    2,922
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    0
    G'day Emily

    Yes, but is it in the best interests of the community? Sure, 'cheap' land can be very attractive, but just how 'cheap' is it to live there in the longer term? For example, what services are available in the nearest urban centre? Is there a school, a bank, a library, medical and postal facilities? If not, how far would one have to travel in order to access these (what many would consider) 'essential' services?

    It will come as no surprise to learn that much of the 'cheap' rural (FZ) land in Victoria is located within municipalities that have declining populations, vis-a-vis declining rates of service access and delivery. Furthermore, when one asks one's self why it that these local government areas are experiencing population decline, often the answers can be found by studying the historical employment characteristics of the region. For example, as farming practices changed in the last quarter of the C20, many people sold their smaller farms and left the region. Others consolidated, and switched their primary production focus to activities that employed less individuals, resulting in the out-migration of further people. Traditional manufacturing enterprises in the smaller urban centres centralised to larger urban centres (we call this the 'sponge' effect), resulting in a further decline in populations. Banks, service stations, schools, state and local government offices; many of these closed due to lower demand coupled with the centralisation policies of their bureaucratic and corporate bean-counters.

    Having said all of that, I understand that you are 'self-employed', and that your target market may be able to access the goods and/or services that you produce external to your eventual place of abode, and that this could be great for you. I also understand that you might consider yourselves to be reletively fit (i.e. no need for medical services). You might not have any children, or any desire to further your own education (i.e. no need for educational institutions). Indeed, you may find that all of your service needs can be met via a satelite internet connection. However, in your original post you mentioned that you wanted to 'grow all of your own food'? Do you think this will be possible on the 12-acre site you are currently scoping? Another reason why many people have left (are leaving) the more isolated regions of Victoria - particularly in the West - is because the climate (vis-a-vis weather patterns i.e. rainfall variability) has become intolerable.

    I realise I must sound like someone who is trying pour cold water (pardon the pun) on your ideas; and I certainly do not want to deter you from your well thought out dreams. However, in my line of work I have personally encountered hundreds of cases where people's dreams have quickly turned into nightmares.

    As I am sure you are only too-well aware, real estate agents are in the business of selling properties, and could therefore hardly be considered as impartial when it comes to securing objective and accurate information concerning planning permission. Of course, a properly presented S 32 should give you some of the finer details you require. However, be aware that all planning permits have an expiry date, and just because one has recently (last year, 5 years, 10 years?) been issued, does not necasarily mean it is still going to be suitable (read: legally relevant) to your present/future requirements. Read the conditions on any current planning permit very carefully! And if you do not fully understand them, seek legal advice. Planning permits often (in the case of undersized FZ allotments recently created) carry additional requirements, such as S 173 Agreements. If your intending permit has one of these, likewise study it very carefully and seek legal advice if required.

    Now, taking off my stat planner hat, and putting on my communitarian hat (g'day to all my friends in Mandala Town), I'd like to offer you the following. Moving into an established, rural community (be that one with a declining, or otherwise population base) can be a very rewarding and worthwhile experience. One can find one's self among some of the most kind and caring people, all ready to give a hand when the need arises, but at the same time respectful of one's own need for privacy and autonomy. But just as easily, one can find one's self living within a culture that is very alien to one's previous existence. Many find the latter a welcome challenge, and strive hard to integrate rather than segregate. Some are successful, many are not. The latter often packing up and moving on within a couple of hard fought years. Some eventually realise that the 'rural idyll' is not for them, and they seek (and hopefully secure) a compromise; a site within a settlement on the fringe (but still part of) a progressively-orientated, medium sized, rural/urban centre.

    Lastly, I truly do hope that find what it is you are looking for, and that your new community turns out to be everything you hoped it would. Please do keep us up-to-date with your endeavours, and please ask if there is anything I can do to help you further your dream.

    Cheerio, Markos.
     
  12. Grahame

    Grahame Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2008
    Messages:
    2,215
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    You raise some great points Mark, as per usual.

    [soap box]

    This stuff touches on what I see as some of the more important and pressing aspects of Perma-Culture and how it can be more successful as a widespread way of living and being. I believe at the moment permaculture is not extending itself beyond the sum of it's parts. It will only really begin to have an effect on the wider community when it's parts gel into a much great being, something much greater than the sum of it's parts.

    We need permaculture communities, not more permaculture silos. In fact, I think, we have a bit of cheek calling isolated properties like these permaculture. A few may be self-sufficient, some may be sustainable, but really very few of them could claim to be part of a 'Sustainable or Permanent Culture'. (I trust it is OK for me to assume we have moved on from 'Permanent Agriculture' to the broader 'Permanent Culture'?).

    Having been working on 3 acres for a few years now, 12 acres seems like a lot for one family. I reckon if we put 4 separate families on 3 acres each they would all struggle along. But if we put 6 or more families on 12 acres working together, they could really get some great things done. Imagine what we could do if a whole village or a whole region worked collectively!!

    [/soap box]
     
  13. emilyjane

    emilyjane Junior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2012
    Messages:
    37
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Congrats on passing your inspection, Len. I agree that people should be able to live in any suitably constructed dwelling, including sheds if they want to. Especially when for a lot of us buying a house is completely out of the question (bugger renting for the rest of your life, especially with rent prices being as ridiculous as they are at the moment).

    Thanks, Markos. You make some really good points and it's always helpful to have another perspective, particularly when considering something as big as buying property for the first time.

    As far as cheap land goes in these small communities (and this may be oversimplifying) I figure that if they attract new residents it's easier for the community to either keep or add services. It doesn't make much sense to me that in some of these small communities they have land that would be ideal for living on, but too small to do any real farming on, that they could use to attract new people and build their communities, yet they persist in keeping them farming zoned and (from what I've been told) are often very resistant to having dwellings built on them.

    The property we're looking at is 2km out of a town that has a school and from memory things like a supermarket and post office. It's only about an hour out of Bendigo (probably not far from where you are!), so reasonably close to everything else we may need (and even some luxuries we may have cravings for every now and again like cinemas).

    We are lucky in that so long as we have internet access, and I'm not much more than a couple of hours from Melb airport, we can earn money and our only dependent is a dog so we can live pretty much anywhere. At the moment we're living in a caravan on my dad's 130acre property so we've had a good chance to get a feel for what we can and can't live without and have discovered we don't need too much!

    In terms of growing our own food "all" wasn't the right word, "most" is what I should have said. Oh and it's 14 acres, don't know why I had it in my head it was 12. The land is actually much better quality than we were hoping for, it looked like it hasn't been used for any sort of farming in a long time and the soil quality was ok, there was even a fair bit of clover on there. It is a dry area, and that is something we would have to work around. We're doing a PDC in July and before even looking at this property one of our main interests was water harvesting, so hopefully that will help if we do get this property. I think the property is close enough to town to be connected to water if need be, adjacent houses had water tanks so not sure if they're using only rain water or if they're connected (another thing I have to check). In answer to your question, yes I think we could grow a lot of our own food on the property, but it will require some very good planning. We're also lucky in that this can be a bit more of a long term project, we can live on my father's land as long as we need to so that we can slowly get things set up on our own property. So it may take 5 years to get all the dams, swales, trees, soil improvement etc sorted in order to be able to grow a decent amount of food on there, but that's ok. We may not have the luxury of a lot of money but we do have the luxury of time!

    The section 32 is going straight to our solicitor, so we're covered there and should be well-informed regarding any planning permits.

    Haha I grew up in a reasonably small country town so have an idea of what they can be like - the benefits of having a real community and the cons of having everyone's noses in everyone else's business... I do understand that every small town has its own personality, and it can be a bit of a gamble as to whether or not you're going to fit in. We're up for an adventure, though, and would much rather be taking a risk on a new beginning than still be renting a shoebox in the middle of Carlton and being woken up by junkies or drunk students in the middle of the night!

    Please keep the advice/thoughts coming, it is very helpful!
     
  14. emilyjane

    emilyjane Junior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2012
    Messages:
    37
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I agree that a communal approach would be a much better one, and certainly one that we would consider if we could find the right people... We're fairly new to the whole permaculture thing so who knows maybe as we get into it more and make more connections it's a possibility but I think generally anything communal is a hard sell here - we have an extremely individualistic society and I think it's going to take something major for Australians to stop feeling entitled to a big house and a big backyard with a big lawn. The virulence of housing estates in Victoria sadly demonstrates what many people want...
     
  15. Grahame

    Grahame Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2008
    Messages:
    2,215
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    I think it tells us more about what people are told they want by developers, real estate agents, multi-nationals etc.

    Personally, I think what people really want is a happy, content existence with a community around them, an opportunity to converse with nature, to do something real. But most of us have no idea what that looks like, because it doesn't exist on the TV, in the work place, or in popular culture. There is nowhere for them to see it in practice. People really want to feel comfortable in their own skins, but most of them don't, so they are convinced to build a new McMansion skin around themselves. For those who realise this is a false skin, they then may break out and build a new 'sustainable, self-reliant' skin. But it is still a skin, none-the-less.

    It's a tough one, because we are here in this forum, looking for the leaders who are going to show us how to do the job well, but the truth is, most of us are going to have to be the leaders ourselves.

    I look forward to you joining the leadership group EmilyJane ;)
     
  16. emilyjane

    emilyjane Junior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2012
    Messages:
    37
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    That's true.

    Haha well once I've figured out how to organise my own life I'll have a crack at joining the leadership group (could be a while, though).

    Do you have any links to established permaculture communities that provide good models?
     
  17. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2005
    Messages:
    2,922
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    0
    G'day Emily

    Glad to learn all of that. It is heartening to see someone contemplating an urban-to-rual transition with their 'eyes wide open'.

    You may find the following resource of interest:

    Cohousing Australia - Projects

    Cheerio, Markos.
     
  18. emilyjane

    emilyjane Junior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2012
    Messages:
    37
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Update:

    We finally got the section 32 and there is a planning permit to build a dwelling on the property we're looking at. There are, however, a couple of major issues with the planning permit that we're going to have to investigate further.

    The first issue is that, due to the property being in an area that is prone to bushfires, the planning permit states that "grassland with minimal trees or cultivated vegetation is the predominant vegetation within 100 metres of the proposed dwelling." This is obviously something we need to clarify with the council because that statement on its own is highly subjective, but if we can't have vegetable gardens within 100 metres of the house the property isn't really ideal for having a stab at self-sufficient living. These regulations regarding bushfires are probably something we'd have to work around in any property in Central Victoria, so it may be a matter of finding a council that interprets them in a way that's conducive to growing our own food, or we need to figure out some sort of fun way to get to vegetable gardens 100 metres away from the house...

    The second issue is the requirement that a driveway be put in that runs through a small creek bed. The driveway must be able to support a 15 tonne vehicle (basically a fire truck). Based on my research thus far it would probably cost around $15,000 to get concrete pipes and whatnot to allow a truck to drive over that creek bed. This is an issue specific to this property, and I'll ask the council if they would grant access from the main road on the other side of the property, if they wouldn't there are other properties in the area that are similarly priced and even though a bit smaller don't have that particular issue.
     
  19. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2009
    Messages:
    5,925
    Likes Received:
    7
    Trophy Points:
    0
    My reading of your quote is that you can have either - grassland with minimal trees OR cultivated vegetation within 100 m of the house. I would reckon that a vege garden would constitute cultivated vegetation par excellence! I can't imagine that lettuces burn all that well...
     
  20. emilyjane

    emilyjane Junior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2012
    Messages:
    37
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    You know, I think you may just be right. I really hope so! It makes more sense, I had the same thought, vegetable gardens aren't really much of a fire hazard...

    Thanks!
     

Share This Page