Our Principal Planner worked at a rural Council as the planning coordinator before going to private practice and  one of the most common enquiries (aside from building a farm shed) was whether rural zoned land could be subdivided. The general idea of the resident was that as the land was so large, or separated by a road, that it should be able to be subdivided. The other main argument is that the area is surrounded by smaller properties with the same zoning!

The rational part of anyone’s brain would agree! Why shouldn’t someone be able to subdivide unused sections of their land to ensure they keep their land rather than have to sell it, or why shouldn’t they be able to subdivide their land to a size that is keeping with the locality and character of the area?

Unfortunately, local government town planning is not often rational!

This is also one of Outlook Planning’s most requested enquiries, particularly with the boom of cashed up Sydney-siders moving out of the city to have a tree change for a better lifestyle, and we thought we would take the time to write a blog post about rural land subdivision.

What land is classified as rural land?

Rural land is a land zoning that is defined under your Councils local environmental plan

Zone RU1 Primary Production
Zone RU2 Rural Landscape
Zone RU3 Forestry
Zone RU4 Primary Production Small Lots
Zone RU5 Village
Zone RU6 Transition

How do I find out my zoning?

All you need to do is go to the planning portal website and search for your property. The website provides all relevant development standards such as minimum lot size, maximum height limits and floor space ratio limits as well as providing information on hazards and other planning concerns for the site.

What are the first initial steps?

The first step in your journey is to understand your site and the zoning around it. Visit the planning portal (as above) and search for your site. The main information you want is the zoning and the minimum lot size requirement. Try and have a play and see what other constraints the site may have and also it is then worthwhile using the site to navigate to the Local Environmental Plan and having a casual read of this document.

Once you have familiarised yourself with the planning controls relating to your property then the next step is to give Council a call and  speak to a duty planner about the idea of the subdivision. This is the best first stop as you might be lucky and get an experienced and thorough town planner such as our principal planner taking your call (unfortunately this is rare and most duty planners are straight out of university with little knowledge). 

Once you have spoken with Council the next step would be to give us a call or send us an email and we can have a look at your site and if you provide us with any information that Council provided you we can make a quick determination if it would be worthwhile pursuing or if there are any other options.

Some Information about Rural Land Subdivisions

Rural subdivisions are fairly similar to residential subdivisions where the new lots must comply with the minimum lot size for the area (see above to find out the minimum lot size for your site). For rural land the minimum lot size is often quite large (for RU1 properties it is common for the minimum lot size to be 40+ Hectares (100 acres). This is a very large lot of land!

The main reason for the large minimum lot size for rural lands is because the main use of the land is meant to be for agricultural purposes (farming). This agricultural purpose generally requires a substantial amount of site area as the traditional purpose of primary production land was for livestock or large scale agriculture. The issue is that not all land can be farmed due to site constraints (topography, soil and water) or due to the changing climate and economy. This is where the irrational area of town planning (particularly from the local government perspective) as the zoning is not generally site specific but encumbers a large area and take a one size fits all approach.

Unlike residential subdivisions (where the minimum lot size requirement can be carried), for rural lands it is difficult to vary the minimum lot size for a site often due to the wording of clause 4.6 of the Local Environmental Plan. It is not as simple as some of the urban sites where a clause 4.6 variation report can be provided for a subdivision. The Local Environmental Plan often specifically prohibits the subdivision of rural land where it doesn’t meet the minimum lot size.

What is the required?

Development applications for rural land subdivision can be a little different to residential subdivision as sometimes it doe not require as much information to make a determination. Generally for rural block the stormwater can be affectively managed on site through the use of pits and other stormwater engineering initiates. Often the biggest issue with rural subdivisions is the impact that bushfire will have on the development. All subdivision in rural areas that are impact by bushfire (refer to the planning portal to see if your property is classified as bushfire prone land) are required to have a bushfire report. These application are then referred through to the rural fire service for the consideration and assessment.

The main two documents that are required are the plan of subdivision as well as the statement of environmental effects. The latter document is the main document that is used to argue the case for the subdivision as well as arguing the point for any non compliance with the development.

Dwelling houses and dual occupancies on rural zoned land

One of the most common questions in regard to rural properties that we received at Council but that we also received nowadays is whether a house can be built on the land. Some people assume that as the land of considerably large, that a house, or multiple houses can be erected on land. For rural land however there is usually a clause within the local environmental plan (LEP) that restricts dwelling houses on rural land. The clause generally restricts the approval of dwellings dwellings for rural sites unless the site complies with the minimum lot size. There are some additional clauses that can be taken advantage of so please get in contact with us.

Let’s work together

Have a chat with one of our planners about rural subdivisions today!

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