Support for landowners left in lurch

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Support for landowners left in lurch

Making points: Ian Chalmers (centre) addressed South Gippsland Shire Council last Wednesday, flanked by council’s director of development services Phil Stone and engineering services director Anthony Seabrook.

TWO councillors have come out in defence of the landowners of South Gippsland, declaring people have the right to build on their properties and not be restricted by a proposed council policy.
South Gippsland Shire councillors Bob Newton and David Lewis last week said council’s draft Rural Land Use Strategy limited people’s freedom.
They were speaking at a submissions hearing regarding the strategy in Leongatha last Wednesday, at which claims of discrimination and stripping people of their rights were levelled at council by frustrated landowners.
The landowners called for council to extend proposed Rural Activity Zones – which would increase their chance of building a home – to include their properties, and others demanded council ask the State Government to overhaul planning restrictions.
Cr Newton said council could not expect to develop a policy where “one size fits all”.
“We should not stop these people from getting a house on their properties because it’s unviable to get bigger,” he said.
“It’s just discrimination against property-owners who should have the right to build a house on their properties. If we are going to deny people a home on their properties, or the government is, we should be compensating these people.”
Cr Newton called on State Government officers to come to South Gippsland and see people’s plights firsthand.
Cr Lewis said the strategy’s preference for development of titles created after council amalgamations in 1994 was unfair.
“If the property was subdivided around that date, then you would have a chance but if it was subdivided before that date, it’s just bad luck,” he said.
“This strategy disadvantages people who have had blocks in their family for generations and for the vast majority of that time, it was possible to get a permit.”
He later boosted his argument for rural development with: “If we have small blocks in some areas of poor agricultural potential, we are not going to have increasing tracks of land around main towns go to rural living, which is often our best farming land.”
Long time critic of council’s land policy, Philip Murphy, said C48 and C51 land policy had cost him between $1 million and $2 million in capital value across his properties.
The Leongatha North farmer said Australia was no longer the lucky country when council drove people away and removed people’s rights and liberties.
He criticised the strategy’s proposed minimum lot size and tenement conditions which he said discriminated against owners of multiple adjoining titles.
“The only way that farmers are going to survive in the future is to grow bigger, so it’s imperative for this to happen that we don’t have the disincentive to purchase our neighbours’ properties, which we have with tenement controls,” he said.
Ross Wise has a 12ha property without a house at Dumbalk that has been owned by his family since the 1960s.
He was offered $250,000 for the land before rural planning changes occurred but refused the offer, preferring to keep the property for future generations of his family to enjoy.
Mr Wise said the property is now worth just 20 per cent of that, which equates to $50,000, and asked council what they could do to secure him a permit to build a dwelling.
With the property bounded by 700m of river frontage, 700m of roadside and other small properties, Mr Wise said he is unable to acquire adjoining land to enlarge the block to the point where he could obtain a permit.
Mr Wise said landholders such as himself should be compensated but acting mayor Cr Mimmie Jackson said: “We are not in the habit of giving out compensation.
“We are going to look at the different sizes and we are going to make a decision that is strategic.”
Sue Svenson, representing the 201 members of the Rural Property Owners Group, said the introduction of such rules as minimum lot sizes in the Farming Zone should have been assessed by an independent panel.
She also said the policy was “confusing”, “ambiguous”, “difficult to interpret” and “lacks clarity and certainty”.
Ms Svenson also questioned the strategy’s banning of dwellings accompanying calf rearing businesses on lots of less than 100ha, saying such a business was compatible with farming.
Ian Chalmers of Fish Creek urged council to encourage tourism in the Farming Zone, saying tourism was worth $200 million to the shire.
He said the policy discriminated against multiple title-holders, saying it implied farmers destroyed the land.
Former real estate agent and now farmer, Bernie Koolstra, called for more Rural Activity Zones to cater for Baby Boomers he said wanted to move to the country from Melbourne.
Many small lots around Stony Creek and Darlimurla that people had long believed they could build on were ideal for development, he said.
Council received 36 submissions to the strategy. Council was to consider the final strategy in August, but as the State Government has indicated it may provide more flexible rules, council is awaiting the government’s intentions before finalising the strategy.

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Posted by on Jun 22 2011. Filed under Featured, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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