THE Victorian Government’s Rural Zone Reforms, approved by Minister for Planning Matthew Guy last week, only answers part of the puzzle, according to the state’s peak farmer body.
The final stage of the Zone Reforms, to be gazetted on September 5, means that Victoria’s six rural zones now include the Farming Zone, Rural Living Zone, Rural Activities Zone, two Green Wedge Zones and the Rural Conservation Zone which, between them, cover the vast geographic majority of the state.
Mr Guy said the purpose of the new rural strategy is to make it easier to start and operate rural industries and to give rural and regional councils much greater flexibility in managing their own municipalities.
The key changes include:
encouraging agricultural use of land, particularly in the Farming and Green Wedge Zones;
allowing councils to consider more ‘off farm’ income streams on farms, such as farm machinery repair businesses;
increasing the permit threshold for extensions to farm out-buildings from 50 m2 to 100 m2;
removing the need for a permit for primary produce sales, rural stores and most rural industries in the Rural Activities Zone;
allowing councils the ability to determine smaller lifestyle lots in the Rural Living Zone where land has already been taken out of agricultural production;
removing onerous restrictions on crop structures, to ensure protection from hail and other elements; and
- promoting farm gate sales such as the sale of fruit, vegetables and other produce.