I worked at a rural council for a few years as the head of planning and one of the most common enquiries (aside from building a farm shed) was whether rural zoned land could be subdivided. The general idea was that as the land was so large, or separated by a road, that it could be subdivided. More often than not the answer was no as the land was often either undersized (more on that later) or not large enough for subdivision.
Fast forward to today and an enquiry that we often receive is whether a rural property can be subdivided! The difference is that the town planners at Council nowadays will not be as helpful as what I would have been when I was at Council. In response to that we thought that we would write some information on the ins and outs of rural 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 is the first step?
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 which what limits the minimum lot size for that zone and the area.
For rural lands it is difficult to vary the minimum lot size for a site. 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?
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.