Non-Urban Land

Land that is in a rural or environmental zone that has an area less than 40 hectares in the MidCoast is commonly referred to as 'non-urban' land.

Non-urban land exists for many reasons and in the MidCoast, can be found in various locations including but non limited to North Arm Cove, Pindimar, Bundabah, Carrington and the former gold mining town of Copeland.

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 are no plans to rezone non-urban land 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.

A "paper subdivision" is a term used to describe land containing lots that only have recognition on paper and, in most cases, have no formed roads, drainage, reticulated water, sewer or electricity.

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.



What is MidCoast Council's position on non-urban land?

Land in paper subdivisions that are located within an existing rural or environmental zone will be considered as part of the MidCoast Rural Strategy.

This land represents only one component of what is a complex rural environment; and given these areas are already recognised as having significant constraints by the NSW State Government and Council, rezoning these areas for urban purposes is highly unlikely.

Community consultation on the draft Rural Strategy is expected to occur in 2021. The strategy will inform the preparation of a consolidated MidCoast Local Environmental Plan which will provide clear and consistent planning rules across the Local Government area.

More information on the Rural Strategy is available on the Zoning In on our future webpage.



Why do I pay rates on non-urban land?

We are required, under the Local Government Act 1993, to levy rates on all land, whether it can be built upon or not, so non-urban land is NOT exempt from rates.

Rate funds are used to maintain, improve and provide services and facilities for the whole of the MidCoast Council area. The rates paid may not relate directly to the services, infrastructure or facilities used by each ratepayer (eg not all ratepayers will use parks, a public library or cycle path), rather the services and facilities that are available to all who live within our local government area.

Each year as part of the budget process, the elected Council determines the rates and charges for the financial year.

The only land which is exempt from the payment of rates are defined in the Local Government Act 1993 and include vacant crown land, national parks, state forests, schools, reserves and land used for charitable or religious purposes.



Can I build on non-urban land?

Can I build a house?

A house can only be built after you have approval.

Dwellings on land within paper subdivisions will only be considered where the land:

  1. Has a dwelling entitlement under the relevant Local Environmental Plan; and
  2. It can be demonstrated that the land is suitable for urban development

Additional information on developing non-urban land is available from the following websites:

  • Clause 4.2A of the Gloucester LEP 2010 regarding dwelling entitlements
  • Clause 4.2A of the Great Lakes LEP 2014 regarding dwelling entitlements
  • Clause 4.2A of the Greater Taree LEP 2010 regarding dwelling entitlements

Can I build a shed?

The State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development) 2008 (Codes SEPP) allows for certain low impact development that meets relevant development standards to be carried out on land without the consent of Council. This form of development is known as 'exempt development'.

The policy also allows for development that has a greater impact than exempt development but is still considered to have minor environmental impact on neighbourhood amenity, to be undertaken as complying development where predetermined development criteria has been met.

For example, a farm building (shed) may not need approval if the land is already used for Agriculture.

‘Agriculture’ is clearly and consistently defined in all local environmental plans - 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. 

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?

The clearing of native vegetation on rural land is legislated by the Local Land Services Act 2013 and the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016

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?

Yes you can camp on the land you own, and prior approval is not required for the following:

  • the installation of not more than two caravans, campervans or tents on any land, so long as they are not occupied for more than two days at a time and are not occupied for more than 60 days (in total) in any single period of 12 months.

You will 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.

For camping that does not meet the above requirements, the prior approval of Council will be required.

When camping on your land, you do need to ensure that waste is suitably managed.