18 November 2019

Eurobodalla mayor 'disappointed' after Rural Lands Strategy development knocked back

| Elka Wood
Join the conversation
The Eurobodalla rural and coastal landscapes

An “undisclosed change” to the LEP which has left 10 rural property owners without the building entitlement. Photo: Eurobodalla Tourism.

Eurobodalla Mayor Liz Innes is disappointed a small number of local property owners who hoped to build on their properties won’t be able to develop their land after NSW Government changes to the Rural Lands Strategy Local Environment Plan amendment (LEP).

“The document Council had endorsed is not the document the Minister signed off,” Cr Innes wrote in a press release on 18 November.

“Council staff identified a number of concerns following the LEP amendment, including finalising the LEP in a manner that allows boat sheds to be built in the E2 Environmental Conservation Zone without approval and incomplete mapping information defining the location of roads, rivers and some property boundaries that made the plans difficult to read.”

But it is an “undisclosed change” to the LEP which has left 10 rural property owners without the building entitlement they were expecting that Cr Innes is most disappointed about.

The Rural Lands Strategy was first initiated in 2012 when Council sought to investigate the issues and opportunities surrounding rural areas in Eurobodalla Shire.

The stated purpose of the strategy is to “encourage a vibrant commercial agriculture sector, increase rural living opportunities, and support the growth of rural business opportunities, including tourism”.

Cr Innes has campaigned on the issue over two elections and a period of almost a decade.

The conveyor of the Nature Coast Alliance, Kathryn Maxwell, says that a recent meeting with the Department of Planning and Environment made it clear to her why development was knocked back in some areas.

“There were seven areas identified as unsuitable for subdivision and development, all in large, intact areas of native bushland which are steep or inaccessible. The Rural Fire Service identified these areas as places of extreme fire risk.”

Ms Maxwell says that the mayor’s mistake was to “tell everyone it was a done deal”.

“I think it is outrageous that the mayor would continue to push for development in these areas, especially after the last few weeks of fires we’ve had across NSW,” Ms Maxwell emphasises.

“The LEP already allows for development in high-risk areas, it’s time to accept the limits the professionals have put in place.”

Moruya grass fire

Fire was considered a risk factor in deciding against development changes. Photo: Alex Rea.

Cr Innes made no mention of fire risk in the 18 November press release but noted that Council staff had raised concerns with the Department of Planning about changes made to minimum lot size maps.

“By their own admission, the Department of Planning made changes to the agreed position without advising us, and there’s no excuse for that.

“The mess with the incomplete mapping meant Council staff have spent weeks identifying the true impact of this change. We now know 10 property owners who previously did not have a building entitlement but were expecting one under the new LEP have had that potential removed because of the Department’s undisclosed change.”

The “undisclosed change” is no mystery, according to Ms Maxwell, who encourages the mayor to “be honest with these landowners”.

“We are facing our most dangerous fire season ever,” she says. “Surely the last few weeks of fires would make someone think twice about developing in bushland. It’s time to put public safety first.”

Cr Innes says it’s the lack of communication by the department of planning which has caused problems.

“While we’re pleased the Department has agreed to correct the other mistakes made in finalising the LEP, I remain astonished that such a significant change was made without informing Council or the property owners impacted,” she says.

Cr Innes said representatives of the Department had agreed to meet with Councillors and the affected property owners to discuss what has occurred and the impacts it will have, and letters will be sent to those impacted this week.

“I want to be clear that the LEP reflects the vast majority of our Rural Land Strategy thinking and we’re thrilled about that. It’s been a long time coming.

“The changes made by the Department are minor in the context of the overall LEP amendment and we do need to focus on the opportunities it brings. But it’s unfair for these local landowners who had hoped the rural lands reforms would allow them to build a home on their own land. They’ve been let down badly.”

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments
Jeff de Jager8:16 am 20 Nov 19

If there’s only 7 areas involved, why doesn’t the mayor publish a map showing them – no need to publish landowners’ names – and then we could all better see what the fuss is about.

Daily Digest

Do you like to know what’s happening around your region? Every day the About Regional team packages up our most popular stories and sends them straight to your inbox for free. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.