Horsham Rural City Council's farm shed rules clarified

FARMERS could gain an exemption to obtain building permits for farm sheds storing tractors and tools.

Horsham Rural City Council previously exempted some farm buildings from needing a permit in 2003. However, the policy was in conflict with the building code of Australia and Victorian building regulations. Therefore, councillors voted at a meeting on March 19 that its policy needed to conform to the state and national regulations.

Following this meeting, it was implied that farmers must obtain permits to build a farm shed.

However, Horsham councillors voted at a meeting on Monday night that farmers could gain an exemption if the proposed shed falls within the class ten category.

Councillor John Robinson moved the motion that an exemption could be permitted, but would be determined on a case-by-case basis and at the discretion of a building surveyor. 

Farmers are required to speak to a Horsham council building surveyor about their requirements to determine if the farm shed was classified as class 10. The surveyor has the ability to grant an exemption. 

Cr Robinson said material on the Horsham Council website implied that there were no cases for an exemption. 

“I spoke to (the National Construction Code’s management and product certification director) and he said we should be pointing to class ten sheds – if it looks reasonable then that’s the direction we should go,” he said. “It’s about reducing red tape and giving farmers the flexibility in the low hazard scenarios where it’s just storage.” 

Councillor David Grimble said farmers would still be required to talk to council before building a farm shed, but there are now exemptions in place around size, purpose, operation and occupancy. 

“A typical type shed on a farm that can house a tractor falls into low risk, low hazard and opens up the surveyor to review that,” he said. “If you make too much red tape and bureaucracy then you make it too expensive and too dangerous.”

Mayor Pam Clarke said the original decision to rescind an outdated policy was to conform to state legislation. 

“This is not something council has done to farmers – it is state legislation and we have to comply,” she said.

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