Different land zones have their own regulations regarding building & development.
Land that is in a rural or environmental zone that has an area less than 40 hectares in the Great Lakes region is commonly referred to as 'Non-Urban' land. There are a large number of 'Non-Urban' lots in the MidCoast, particularly in the North Arm Cove, Pindimar, Bundabah, and Carrington localities.
If you want to buy or build a house on a non-urban lot, you need to establish whether or not the property has a dwelling entitlement or is an existing holding.
An application for a dwelling entitlement / existing holding search can be lodged with Council. A dwelling entitlement search will let you know if development is allowed on a non-urban lot, but it does not guarantee that you will get approval to build. An application for Development Consent is still required.
If you have bought, or are thinking about buying land in these areas please be aware of what you can and cannot do with the property.
There is no plan to rezone Non-urban land in the areas of North Arm Cove, Pindimar, Bundabah and Carrington for urban purposes.
What Is 'Non-Urban Land'?
Non-urban lands were created by 'paper-subdivisions' in the 1800s and early 1900s, before the introduction of planning legislation. More information on paper subdivisions is available in the Department of Planning and Environment fact sheets.
There are rules about building and development, clearing trees and vegetation, bushfire hazard reduction, camping and occupying non-urban land. You may be fined or prosecuted if you carry out these activities without approval.
Non-urban land is NOT exempt from rates. The use of non-urban land is highly restricted and rates are still payable even on empty blocks. Councils are required to charge rates on private land under the Local Government Act 1993. Council, because of the limited use of non-urban land, charges the lowest rates possible.
Can I build on non-urban land?
Can I build a house?
A house can only be built after you have approval. Approval to build a house on non-urban land can only be given if there is evidence that the property has a dwelling entitlement / existing holding. See Clause 4.2A in the Great Lakes LEP 2014 for more information on this rule. Similar clauses exist in both the Greater Taree LEP 2010 and Gloucester LEP 2010.
Can I build a shed?
The State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development) 2008 allows some buildings and structures without Council approval, but strict rules apply. This Policy is often referred to as the Codes SEPP.
The Codes SEPP may also allow some building or development on your land without approval from Council if it is related to another use on the same land. For example, a farm building (shed) may not need approval if the land is already used for Agriculture.
‘Agriculture’ is clearly defined in Great Lakes LEP 2014 and it must be a genuine business enterprise, have a distinct commercial purpose and character and must be carried out for the purpose of financial gain. The planting of fruit trees or vegetable patches for personal use is not an agricultural activity having a commercial purpose or character. The same definition for agriculture exists in both the Greater Taree LEP 2010 and Gloucester LEP 2010.
It is illegal to live in or occupy a shed. It is also unlawful to install plumbing and drainage for toilets, basins, showers and rain water tanks in sheds or outbuildings without approval from Council.
Can I remove vegetation from non-urban land?
Can I remove trees or vegetation?
There are strict rules about the removal of trees and vegetation on non-urban land. Approval is generally needed for the removal or clearing of any native vegetation. In these areas the clearing of trees and vegetation is not allowed except in very limited situations.
It is also unlawful to remove, prune or damage trees or vegetation on neighbouring properties without consent from the owner.
Can I remove trees and vegetation to reduce the risk of bushfire?
Bushfire Hazard Reduction work can be carried out without consent in very limited circumstances. Clearing of your land is not generally considered to be bushfire hazard reduction if you do not have written approval from the Rural Fire Service.
Can I camp on non-urban land?
A camping permit will only be issued to allow camping by the landowner and / or immediate family for up to 60 days in one year. A permit is required from Council before you can camp. There is a fee for a camping permit.
Caravans and the like are not allowed to be permanently located on non-urban land. Conditions of a camping permit include the removal of all structures and caravans from the site at the expiration of the permit. No camping equipment can remain on the land when not in use.
You need Council approval before building any structure on your land including those that you may want to use when camping on a property such as a concrete slab, shelter/carport or rainwater tank. Trees and vegetation cannot be removed, pruned or damaged for the purpose of camping or building of any structures.