7 October, 2022
Council strikes compromise on RV proposal
A COMPROMISE has been struck that will allow some Tablelands landholders to host RVs on their properties without having a significant impact on local caravan parks and without having to make an application to council.
Tablelands Regional Council put forward an amendment to its Planning Scheme earlier this year which included a proposal to allow landowners to host visitors looking for a nature experience on private properties.
Council was also prompted to take action after being made aware that some property owners were unlawfully allowing guests to stay on their land, upsetting neighbours and raising concerns that, left unchecked, the practice could get out of control and impact on the environment.
But council’s proposal, which would have allowed landowners to host up to six RVs allowed on Rural, Rural Residential and Emerging Com-munities zones for up to six consecutive nights as an “accepted development” and up to 20 RVs for 13 nights on properties in the Rural and Broad Hectare zones, hit a raw nerve with local caravan parks owners, fearful it would undermine their businesses.
The proposal sparked more than 112 submissions, with the vast majority objecting to the amendment.
A new proposal was put forward to council at its latest meeting to radically change the param-eters of the amendment, now allowing the activity to only take place on land zoned General Rural or Broad Hectare and reducing the number of RVs that would be allowed without council assessing the proposal.
The new amendment will also mean that land-owners wanting to host more than six RVs will have to go through a code assessable process with council, and properties that wish to host more than 10 RVs will be impact assessable, giving the public a say.
But Cr Dave Bilney spoke against relaxing the rules to allow landowners to host up to six RVs without a proper assessment by council.
“I would agree that the planning scheme needs to be contemporary and relevant however my firm view is the manner in which we currently assess these applications is proven and best practice,” he said.
“Under the proposed amendments, there is still the ability to self-assess and providing they meet the assessment threshold, they can commence operations.
“While this is streamlined, it does not provide officers with an understanding with what is happening around the shire and whether they are com-pliant.
“They are currently occurring largely without council knowledge and further easing of the planning scheme will only intensify the current issues of compliance and regulatory protection of natural assets and the environment.
“My suggestion would be to look at ways of reducing our own internal processes that may encourage potential applicants to legitimise their operations and provide officers with what is happening, where and when.”
Cr Annette Haydon also spoke against the changes, describing them as a “bit unfair” given that caravan park owners paid hefty rates each year and “had to jump through hoops to meet a sleuth of regulations”.
Cr Peter Hodge, who put forward the new parameters, said he wanted to make sure the amendments were as “fair and equitable” as they could be, but was also adamant the laws must be policed.
“The big thing that has come to me from caravan park owners is that if we are going to put this policy in place, we have to police it,” he said.
Planning manager Tudor Tenase said council was often made aware of the unlawful activity either through complaints or by monitoring web-sites and social media.
“We have spoken to them about having to do it in a lawful manner – and I can tell you that we have people waiting.
“Generally, people are quite prepared to do things in a legal way if that legal way is explained to them.”
Mr Tenase also confirmed that despite land-owners not having to make an application to host six RVs on the land, they would still have to pay infrastructure charges. But councillors questioned how this would work, given landowners did not have to apply to council in the first place, and why the charges were even necessary.
“New use of the land puts an added strain on council’s infrastructure so it’s fair that infrastructure charges be levied. In general, they will be in the order of $750 for each RV site – invoices will be sent and they have to be paid,” Mr Tanase said.
Council approved the changes to the Planning Scheme, with Crs Haydon and Bilney voting against the motion. The changes will now go to the Minister for State Development, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning for approval before council can adopt the changes