Draft rural strategy and paper subdivisions - MidCoast Council Fact Sheets and FAQs


bobreidWednesday, 29 September 2021 - 4:40pm

Last weeks edition of NOTA (News of the Area) contained a letter about the proposed zoning change for land in paper subdivisions from "rural" to "environmental" in the draft rural strategy. The letter asked a number of questions about the strategy and alleged that the strategy "cancels all landowners rights".

MidCoast Council has published detailed information on the draft rural strategy on its website, and has included a number of Fact Sheets and Frequently Asked Questions. These are very informative but a little bit hard to find since you have to click on the "tell me more" button at the bottom of the rural strategy section. I didn't realise they were there until a Council officer told me about them a couple of days ago.

For North Arm Cove landowners in both the village and non-urban areas, there are three Fact Sheets that are most relevant. These are for the Rural Strategy, Paper Subdivisions, and the Village zone. I have attached them to this post for people to read without going to the Council website. They are only two pages each and provide a simple summary of what is proposed.

The Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) cover many of the issues raised in the letter in NOTA.  I have reproduced the FAQs for paper subdivisions below as they answer most of the questions in this letter.

Why can’t I build a house on my land?

Most land in paper subdivisions has always been in a rural or environmental zone and the individual properties have been too small to meet the minimum lot size requirements for a “dwelling entitlement”. Most paper subdivisions also have no services, facilities or infrastructure available to support development. In some areas the land is also heavily vegetated and does not have publicly constructed or maintained road access.

A review of these constraints in each paper subdivision area leads us to our proposed approach, which aims to provide greater certainty for landowners of the future of these lands:

  • There are no paper subdivisions where existing individual lots can be rezoned to allow each existing lot to be developed

  • Most paper subdivisions require existing lots (commonly between 600sqm and 2ha in size) to be consolidated to 10, 20 or 40ha to balance the impact of development with the environmental, infrastructure and servicing constraints of the location

  • Landowners would need to work together to decide who gets to build and how the costs of planning assessment processes are covered

  • For landowners that cannot afford the time or costs of consolidating or pursuing a development outcome, land can be transferred into public ownership at no cost, and will be maintained for environmental and community purposes

Why can’t land in paper subdivisions change from rural to residential?

The aim of the Paper Subdivision Analysis Report was to determine if any paper subdivisions in the MidCoast could be rezoned for residential and other urban development as part of our broad strategic land use planning program.

The Report identified the extent of each paper subdivision for the first time and involved a high-level review of environmental constraints, road access, services, infrastructure, on-site sewage management and bushfire hazard classifications affecting land within each paper subdivision.

The review found that there were no paper subdivisions where current lots could be rezoned to allow a dwelling house on each existing lot, given the relatively small lot sizes and site constraints.

The report recommends lots be consolidated to balance the impact of development with the environmental, infrastructure and servicing constraints, and that the zone of the land be changed from rural to environmental, as most properties are too small to accommodate commercially viable agricultural production which is currently permitted in the rural zone.

The review has been done at a high-level and has considered all land within the mapped extent of each paper subdivision equally. This means that wherever possible, a single consistent zone and lot size has also been proposed for each paper subdivision.

More detailed site specific zones and lot sizes on individual lots is not possible through this review and would only be possible through other processes outside of the scope of the Draft Rural Strategy

Do I retain my existing camping and dwelling entitlement rights?

The proposed changes will not remove any existing camping or dwelling entitlements for land owners in paper subdivisions. The information on our website is still relevant and should be reviewed to confirm what you can do on these lands - Non-Urban Land - MidCoast Council (nsw.gov.au).

Please note, a dwelling entitlement can only be confirmed by submitting a Dwelling Entitlement Information Request. There is a fee for this search to be undertaken and the form is available on our website - Non-Urban Land - MidCoast Council (nsw.gov.au).

What if consolidating lots isn’t possible by 19 November 2021?

There is no expectation for individual land owners to work together to resolve these complex issues within the exhibition period. This refers to the options discussed within the Paper Subdivision Analysis Report and is noted as a necessary step of the State Guidelines for Paper Subdivisions.

We are however, encouraging each affected land owner to review the Draft Rural Strategy and information within the Paper Subdivision Analysis Report, and provide feedback on the review that has been undertaken and the options outlined in that report, including the option for land owners to work together to follow the State Guideline process

Is a contact list available for property owners in my area?

Council is bound by privacy laws which mean that we generally cannot share personal or contact information.

We are however, encouraging each land owner to review the Draft Rural Strategy and the Paper Subdivision Analysis Report, and provide feedback on the review and the options outlined in that report, including the option for land owners to work together to follow the State Guideline process.

All submissions will be reported to Council in 2022, including any submissions where land owners are interested in pursuing and funding the State process

Will Council compensate land owners for ‘resuming’ properties in paper subdivisions?

While the Paper Subdivision Analysis Report and Draft Rural Strategy cannot include specific information about costs, the Report does identify where additional costs may occur in the processes required to consolidate land or follow the State Guidelines for Paper Subdivisions.

The proposed change from a rural to an environmental land use zone, does not have the intent of removing land owners rights to camp on their land or cancel any existing dwelling entitlement that may exist over a property. This change does, however, reflect that these lands are also generally unsuitable for commercial agriculture due to the small lot sizes and site constraints.

Council is not in the process of purchasing or resuming land in paper subdivisions.

The Paper Subdivision Analysis Report does, however, include information on the Local Government Act provision that allows land owners to transfer land to Council in lieu of rate debts when faced with financial hardship

Will Council undertake the State process to rezone paper subdivisions?

Council will not undertake this process. The Paper Subdivision Analysis Report outlines the:

  • range of infrastructure and site constraints that affect land in paper subdivisions;factors that would require not only a redesign of the existing subdivision pattern, but identification of environmental off-set areas, bushfire asset protection requirements, redesign of road reserves to accommodate infrastructure services, and the identification of potential locations for water and sewage facilities;

  • existing examples from across NSW where the State process has achieved a development outcome, the timeframes to undertake this work, information regarding development credits and compensation between land owners based on who gets the right to build etc; and

  • potential land owner management and funding agreements that would be required to commence this process.

The scope of work including costs and commitments required prior to starting the State process are beyond the capacity of Council

About rates in paper subdivisions

It is important to note that the activities and uses allowed on properties in paper subdivisions is a planning matter that is separate from property rates, and that the process of applying a property rating category has limited reference to the zoning of land.

Council is required, under the Local Government Act 1993, to levy rates on all rateable land, whether it can be built on or not and as such the land in a paper subdivision is not exempt from rates.

A new harmonised rating structure was introduced to apply across the MidCoast from 1 July 2021, a legislative requirement for all merged councils. In some paper subdivisions the impact of this has been minor, while other landowners in paper subdivisions have experienced an increase.

The “Farmland / Non Urban” rating category for paper subdivisions has not changed through rate harmonisation, and therefore no change to rates has been brought about through the re-categorisation of your property.This represents a status quo position with the only increase being the 2% rate peg.

The second component in calculating rates is the ad-valorem amount, which is calculated by using the value of the property and multiplying this by a rate in the dollar. This means, properties that are assessed by the Valuer-General as having a higher land value within a category or sub category, will also pay higher rates.

Council does not influence how land values are assessed but must use this information to calculate and distribute rates. Additional information on Land Values and the Valuer General is available at Home - Valuer General of New South Wales (nsw.gov.au).

You can access all of the Fact Sheets and FAQs via the following link: Fact Sheets and FAQs

Submissions on the draft Rural Strategy close on 19 November 2021. All North Arm Cove village landowners should read the strategy and lodge a submission. It is in everybodies best interest to inform Council of your views, so whether you support or are opposed to the proposed changes, please lodge a submission to Council. You can lodge an online submission via the form at the bottom of the following link: Lodge a Rural Strategy Submission

Click here to download the PDF file. (Try shift+refresh if the file does not display above)Click here to download the PDF file. (Try shift+refresh if the file does not display above)Click here to download the PDF file. (Try shift+refresh if the file does not display above)

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