Bega Valley Shire Council has rejected the accusation that it is “actively rezoning land”, saying it is attempting to finalise the zoning of a small number of properties that were subject to owners’ request for changes in 2011 and 2012.
“It is important to clarify that the zoning process occurred between 2010 and 2013,” a council spokesperson said.
In an email to the Magnet, council outlined five key areas that have led to The Bega Valley Shire Farmers and Land Owners Group calling a second meeting at Merimbula RSL on October 19.
Council has been inappropriately rezoning land and has done this without consultation with the land owners and the community.
The spokesperson said that council prepared a draft Local Environmental Plan (LEP) in response to the Department of Planning requiring all state councils to prepare a new LEP to comply with requirements of the Standard Instrument Order 2006.
“The Standard Instrument introduced a new standard set of zonings and new zone names that would apply to all Council Local Environmental Plans across NSW,” he said.
“The majority of the shire was zoned to the closest comparable zone in the template. For example “2(a) Residential Low Density” became “R2 Low Density Residential Zone. In some cases there was not a direct like for like option so for example the former 1(c) Rural Residential zoning was replaced by a combination of R(5) Large Lot Residential or E(4) Environmental Living or in some small areas E(3) Environmental Management zonings. All of these retain a wide range of land uses including residential dwellings.”
He said the draft plan was placed on exhibition for a period of 12 weeks between April 18, 2011 to July 8, 2011, as well as public information sessions between 4pm and 7pm in Bega, Candelo, Cobargo, Eden, Bemboka and Merimbula.
“Council also prepared information sheets for each area. All submissions received during the exhibition period were workshopped with council and then considered at a council meeting. Persons who made submissions had the opportunity to address the relevant council meeting,” he said.
No process if land owners objected
The spokesperson said a landholder who was dissatisfied with the council decision did have, and still has, the opportunity to prepare a site specific rezoning request that can be lodged with council or directly to the Department of Planning for consideration.
“If the landowner is dissatisfied with the decision of the council or department they can request the Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP) review the decision,” he said.
“The owner of Boydtown Pty Ltd followed this course of action where council and the Department of Planning’s positions were endorsed by the JRPP. The recommendation of the JRPP and Minister for Planning’s decision is available on the NSW JRPP website.
“It is important to reiterate that the vast majority of properties had no change to their development potential or to the range of activities that are permissible within their zoning.
“The only thing that changed was the name of the zone. Further numerous land owners successfully requested changes which resulted in an increase to their development potential.”
Owners may be entitled to compensation
The spokesperson said there is no opportunity under the provisions of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 for either compensation or a land owner being required to pay for the benefit of up-zoning as a result of the planning process.
“The meeting organiser would be better served providing you with legal precedent to support his assertion, rather than council having to respond to unsubstantiated claims,” he said.
The CLEP and E zonings have resulted in shortages of land for development
The spokesperson said the Department of Planning ensured that council provided adequate areas of zoned land to meet forecasted population growth requirements.
“As part of the development of the Comprehensive Local Environmental Plan (2013) (CLEP), council worked closely with the Department of Planning to ensure our supply of residential land was adequate and located in key growth areas,” he said.
“Contrary to this claim the CLEP has resulted in large areas of residential land being zoned and made available for development. For example, approximately 100 potential residential lots have been created in South Pambula by the CLEP. Other large areas of residential land have been confirmed in Bega, Wolumla, Kalaru and Bermagui by way of example.
“Council’s land monitor and recent research by council staff has highlighted the vast amount of ‘rural residential’ land supply within the shire. There are over 1000 lots that have been approved or created in our rural zoned areas, with an additional 1000 rural residential lots potentially available within the existing E4, RU4 and R5 zones across the shire.”
He said the Boydtown property had 85ha of vacant residential land with a potential for many hundreds of dwellings being able to be applied for as an example.
“There are also vacant areas suitable for tourist and medium density adjacent to the Seahorse Inn or beach front section of the property,” he said.
“The proposed zonings for the Boydtown property would allow for a further 30 rural residential lots. There are a number of vacant lots within the existing Boydtown residential area.
“The Eden Cove area has a further 150 Masterplan approved lots available for development. This number may not be realised due to site constraints, however there is a substantial amount of residential land still available. There is 17ha of land zoned for residential development on the western edge of Eden, along with further subdivision of the rural residential land on the northern side of Eden still available.
“Council’s growth projections indicate that Eden will have an extra 400-plus people by 2036. That would require another 170 houses. With the existing vacant land, infilling of vacant lots within the existing town and development of medium density units and town houses, Eden has sufficient land to cater for this projected growth.”
E Zones are restricting development
The attached information provides a brief outline of the extent and relevance of E zones within the Bega Vall Shire.
“As can be seen E zones comprise only a small fraction of the shire’s land mass and the E3 and E4 zones have extensive ranges of land uses that are permissible within each zone,” the spokesperson said.
“The example images also depict that residential development can and is occurring within the shires E4 and E3 zones.”