Eurobodalla Council’s Rural Lands Strategy has cleared a major hurdle after NSW Planning Minister Anthony Roberts gave the planning proposal a thumbs up earlier this month.
The council can now proceed with amending its Local Environmental Plan, bringing additional potential for subdivision and dwellings for some rural land owners and increasing rural tourism opportunities, while protecting important agricultural lands.
Importantly it also removes the biodiversity overlay from the LEP and includes it in a development control plan where it can easily be amended by Council if required. The decision also confirms that the E3 environmental management zone will not be used in the LEP.
The council established a Rural Lands Strategy Steering Committee in 2012, comprising land owners and representatives from Council and NSW government agencies. A final strategy was adopted by the council in February 2016.
To implement the strategy’s recommended changes to the LEP, the council was required to submit a planning proposal for the NSW Planning Minister to provide a “gateway determination”, that is, for the minister to decide whether the council could proceed with placing the changes on public exhibition.
Eurobodalla Mayor Liz Innes, who has been involved on the committee since its inception, has been celebrating the news.
“It’s been five years since we started preparing the Rural Lands Strategy and some of our rural land owners have been in a holding pattern all that time. We are now one step closer to certainty,” she said.
“We’re disappointed it’s taken 14 months to get an answer from the Department of Planning and Environment, however, we are grateful for the Minister’s interest in our strategy and that ultimately he gave us his support. Bega MP Andrew Constance has been unwavering in his advocacy on our behalf, too.
“We trust that now the minister has made his decision the department will ensure the process runs smoothly and without unnecessary delay,” the mayor said.
Clr Innes said the strategy was developed with great care and using the astute insights of local land holders.
“We backed our local community and our community got it right,” she said.
“We can now move forward in implementing a strategy that will protect our key agricultural land while providing opportunities for further development in rural areas within the NSW Government’s legal framework.”
The council intends to place the proposal on public exhibition in early 2018 after some minor clarifications have been approved by the Department. The council will write to all rural land owners to advise them of the details and how to make a submission.
After considering all feedback, The council will submit a final amendment to the LEP to the NSW Government for approval. The mayor says she hopes the process will be complete by mid-2018.
Rural land owners with questions about the strategy can call the council’s rural lands hotline on 4474 7486.