Horsham council adopts farming zone guidelines

HORSHAM Rural City councillors believe new guidelines for council’s farming zone will provide both continuity and flexibility.

Council adopted its Dwellings on Small Lots in the Farming Zone guidelines on Monday night.

The guidelines will apply to dwellings on lots smaller than 60 hectares in the farming zone.

They will not override specific planning scheme controls, covenants or agreements that apply to the land.

Cr Mark Radford said the guidelines would help people looking to build on small rural blocks.

He said the policy covered a wide range of building requirements, from building materials and rural character to road setbacks, fencing and landscaping.

“I believe the guidelines are tight where they need to be tight, but they’re also flexible where choice is appropriate,” he said.

“There are some sections that do need to be tight. That ties in with being part of a community.”

Council’s planning and economic director Tony Bawden said the guidelines would complement the Horsham Planning Scheme.

“Some of the strategies outlined in the guidelines need to be mandatory requirements where they relate to access and environmental hazards such as bushfire and flooding – including upgrades to infrastructure such as roads and drainage – to ensure the minimisation of risk to life and property,” he said.

“Other provisions contained in the guidelines can be discretionary.”

Cr Pam Clarke said the guidelines were not designed to stop people from doing what they wanted to do.

“It’s about protecting the people around them, protecting themselves, protecting the environment and making sure that we actually have a say in what happens,” she said.

“Unless we have some form of guideline, we have no control over what happens out there.

“This is really vital for the protection of our communities and the protection of our beautiful environment.”

"Unless we have some form of guideline, we have no control over what happens out there." - Cr Pam Clarke

Cr Clarke said regulations also existed in towns to protect property values.

“Someone can’t build a block of apartments next to my house that are all going to overlook my backyard,” she said.

“The guidelines will protect the value of properties and protect the value of farms and the way they work.”

Cr Heather Phillips said she hoped the guidelines would attract more people to live in rural areas.

She said discretion was necessary.

“There might be lifestylers who choose not to live with electricity,” she said.

“If people want to negotiate a different way of living, there is an opportunity there for people to negotiate how they want to live within our landscape.”

Cr Phillips said councillors and planning staff had put many hours into forming the guidelines.

“We will only really find out if they work when they actually start being used,” she said. 

“Then it’s up to us to fine-tune them.”

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