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Draft Rural Land Use Strategy released for comment

25 May 2021

Southern Grampians Shire Council has developed a Rural Land Use Strategy (RLUS) to guide the future of land use in the Southern Grampians Shire and provide a framework for future planning amendments.

The RLUS is one the key elements of Council’s strategic planning framework, alongside the Community Vision Framework and seeks to support established rural industries such as agriculture and forestry, promote emerging opportunities in rural tourism and recognise and protect important environmental and landscape values. It also addresses the emerging issue of farming land fragmentation and subsequent land use conflict.

Council are now seeking feedback from the Southern Grampians community about the Strategy and how it will impact them.

Key points from the draft RLUS are:

Food and Fibre
Agriculture and forestry underpin the Southern Grampian’s Shire economy. Future planning will support these industries to adapt to changing technology, production systems and climate changes to become thriving and efficient industries. Leveraging our strengths in food and fibre production will help attract supporting service industries, manufacturing and processing businesses. Protection of productive agricultural and forestry land is important to give business confidence to invest for the long term so the RLUS proposes to retain the farming zone where it currently applies, continue advocacy for West Grampians Pipeline project and work with other agencies to examine the potential for productive use of groundwater resources in the Shire.

Rural Tourism
RLUS recognises there is potential to grow tourism in rural areas of Southern Grampians building on established strengths and rural tourism assets. This includes capitalising on opportunities of Hamilton as a regional hub, the Grampians National Park, Kanawinka Geopark, regional touring routes such as the Great Southern Touring Route, connecting the Shire to Melbourne, the coast, Coonawarra and the World Heritage listed Budj Bim Cultural Landscape. These assets provide cultural and educational experiences and tourism opportunities for Southern Grampians rural tourism including adventure activities, wildlife and indigenous cultural experiences, nature based and eco-accommodation such as school camps, off park accommodation and accommodation for adventure tourism providers. The draft RLUS proposes introducing additional guidance for assessment of planning permits for tourism use on framing zones.

Protect and enhance environmental and landscape values
The natural environment values and landscapes of Southern Grampians contribute to its identity and its attractiveness as a place to live, work and visit. The region is host to protected flora and fauna and RLUS proposes opportunities to strengthen policy and controls in order to recognise and protect these diverse and significant natural values.

Subdivision within farming zones
Fragmented farming land can be an impediment to agricultural efficiencies, introduce land use conflict and further deter investment in growing an agricultural enterprise. Converting farm land to residential use can artificially inflate land values and subdivision can pose a big threat to farming practices that can be managed by the planning system. The draft RLUS recognises this and provides the basis of the proposal to specify a lot size minimum for subdivision in the Farming Zone, which will:
• Enable the transfer of land parcels between farm businesses for growth and succession purposes.
• Retain land in lots sufficiently large enough to enable landowners to own and use equipment necessary for efficient management of the farm.

Based on these objectives and the findings of the minimum lot size considerations, RLUS proposes that the lot size minimum of 40 ha for subdivisions be retained.

Construction of a dwelling in the Farming Zone
• The purpose of the minimum lot size below which a permit is required for a dwelling is to afford Council the opportunity to assess whether a dwelling is genuinely required for the agricultural use of the land.
• To ensure that dwelling development does not compromise the agricultural future of the land.
Based on these objectives and findings of the minimum lot size considerations and productive farm sizes, RLUS proposes that the minimum lot size minimum below which a planning permit is required for a dwelling be reset at 200 ha.

To read the full report, head to Submissions will be received up until 11 June 2021 and can be sent to or to Andrew Goodsell, Director Planning and Development Southern Grampians Shire Council Locked Bag 685 Hamilton VIC 3300.

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