A new draft Rural Land Use Strategy is being prepared by East Gippsland Shire Council to guide planning decisions on the future development and subdivision of rural land.
The strategy will be the first of its kind for the shire and will enable the East Gippsland Planning Scheme to be reviewed and updated to respond to rural land use pressures and opportunities.
Agricultural production is a vital part of the East Gippsland economy, yet there has been a trend over the past 20 to 30 years for the subdivision of rural land and housing development that is not associated with agriculture.
Mayor, Cr Mendy Urie said this trend has the potential to impact on commercial agriculture by driving up land prices, making it difficult for primary producers to expand their farms.
“It can also introduce land use conflicts as residents bring different lifestyle expectations to rural areas,” Cr Urie said.
“Council is seeking to find the right balance between the need to protect agricultural operations and cater for the demand for rural lifestyle properties.
“The strategy will include a new decision-making framework that will assist Council when it considers proposed rural subdivision and development, and how that supports the continued economic viability and growth of our agricultural producers.
“Fragmentation of land that is suitable for farming is a significant threat to agricultural productivity and that will be seriously considered in the new draft strategy.”
The strategy will provide clearer policy guidance for Council on the type of development that should be encouraged or discouraged in rural areas, protection of agricultural land from inappropriate subdivision, and responding to landscape values, environmental hazards and climate change.
“There are many factors to be considered within Council’s planning responsibilities that can either support or constrain agricultural enterprises and we will be seeking to ensure the long-term viability of our agricultural sector through clear planning policy,” Cr Urie said.
The strategy builds on previous work undertaken by Council that received significant community support. More recently, the draft strategy has been discussed with agricultural producers in the region and will soon be presented to the recently formed Agricultural Sector Advisory Committee for further feedback.
Cr Urie said it is important that the rural strategy reflects the needs of agricultural producers and meets the community’s aspirations for the vast and diverse rural areas of the shire.
“A comprehensive public consultation process will occur over the next three months before the draft strategy is presented to Council for consideration,” Cr Urie said.