Land use, planning and subdivision rules
The way we use land is always changing. New techniques and technologies mean we can manage land for many different uses. This page looks at changes in land use, rural land subdivision and local planning rules.
Pressures on land use are increasing every day. Land that once was only used for farming is now being considered for other uses, but there are rigorous procedures for land to be evaluated before it can be deemed suitable for a certain use.
Local councils have the responsibility for determining land use, in consultation with government agencies and their communities. While not everyone might agree with the final outcome, everyone has the opportunity to have their say.
When purchasing your rural block, you should ask the local council:
- If there are any development applications current for the nearby area.
- Whether other developments have been approved but not commenced.
- If there are any restrictions on obtaining a permit to build a house or other buildings on your block, or on developing certain land uses.
You have the right to view most development applications at the local council, and where the application has been advertised you can submit an objection if you believe the development will impact unreasonably on your property. And remember, while you might have purchased a block of land in a rural area, further subdivision could be possible.
Farmers have the right to change land use, for example, converting open grazing paddocks into an orchard or vineyard. Farmers also have the right to apply for permission to set up intensive livestock production enterprises, like feedlots, piggeries or chicken sheds. So long as these meet the requirements of the local planning scheme and any Codes, it is likely they will be approved if the land is zoned for agricultural production.
Rural grazing land at the edge of town was zoned as rural residential with a minimum block size of two hectares. A retiring farmer bought one of the blocks and built his house, happy he wasn't too close to his neighbours and that they would be few in number.
Increasing land development pressures meant the council rezoned the area to a smaller minimum block size of 0.2 hectares. The resident submitted a written objection, but ultimately the rezoning was approved and went ahead. The resident now had 15 neighbours instead of three, and experienced significantly reduced amenity.
Urban development and changing population demographics
A quiet, coastal town several hours drive from Melbourne originally had a population primarily made up of retirees and holiday-makers. With improvements in road technology, a freeway was built which dramatically reduced the travel time from Melbourne. Increasingly, urban residents purchased land and built houses, and commuted to work in the city.
The increased competition for land meant that land values increased beyond the reach of the local community. The population demographic and character of the town changed permanently.
Follow these recommendations to become more aware of how land use can change:
- Seek information from the local council planning officer regarding planning provisions.
- Know what industries are allowable in your immediate neighbourhood, and find out what the impacts of these industries might be.
- If you believe a certain land use proposal is inappropriate, you can lodge a written objection to the proposal with your local council. You will need to justify your concerns by explaining how you will be affected by the proposal. In some circumstances, you may not have the opportunity to object.
Who to contact
For more information, contact your local council, the Environmental Protection Authority or the Department of Transport Planning and Local Infrastructure.