The following advice is “Preliminary Advice Only” of a generic nature, and should only be used for such purpose.
Within the Rural Conservation & Green Wedge Zones of Shire of Yarra Ranges, the Use of the land for a dwelling “is not as-of-right”, but is subject to planning permit approval. There are recent permit applications where dwelling applications in the rural areas have been refused, as well as many applications that have been successful. Any dwelling application would need to respond and appropriately satisfy the zoning & other planning requirements affecting the site, with some of these potentially being:
- Proposed Amendment C148 currently under consideration by Council.
- Bushfire Management Overlay (BMO)
- Environmental Significance Overlay (ESO)
- Erosion Management Overlay (EMO)
- Significant Landscape Overlay (SLO)
Proposed Amendment C148 has been adopted by Council, but is still currently under consideration by the Planning Minister. ThisAmendment will result in a major reform of the current Yarra Ranges Planning Scheme if supported by the Planning Minister. In addition to the Zoning & Overlays requirements, Proposed Amendment C148 includes a Draft “Dwellings in Green Wedge Areas Policy”, within which Council identifies three types of areas within the Green Wedge Areas of the Shire, for which any dwelling application would be considered in relation too. In summary these are:
- Productive Agricultural Areas: Generally cleared Lots >10 hectares in area. Any dwelling would need to not restrict future farming opportunities.
- Rural Landscape Areas: Generally partially cleared rural residential lots >2 hectares.
- Rural Residential Areas: Generally rural residential vegetated lots <2 hectares (these lots may have significant constraints that would need to be addressed & satisfied)
The Bushfire Management Overlay (BMO) typically requires a Bushfire Management Statement & Assessment to be prepared for any dwelling located within the BMO, and such assessment is likely to be a critical element in the decision making of the application. It is recommended this report be undertaken prior to any purchase, design of the dwelling or formal planning application being considered.
Any proposed Vegetation Removal will likely require planning permit assessment under the Significant Landscape Overlay (SLO) and/or other areas of the planning scheme. Any native vegetation removal might also trigger Native Vegetation Offset Contributions as a permit condition, particularly for lots >4000m². An Arborist Report assessment will typically be required for existing trees in the vicinity of the proposed works, regardless of whether they are proposed for removal or retention.
The Erosion Management Overlay (EMO) relates to landslip risk. A Soil Geotechnical Report Landslip Assessment will likely be required for “buildings & works” located within the EMO.
The Environmental Significance Overlay (ESO) generally applies to land with significant remnant habitat areas, that may be critical to the survival of both Flora and Fauna species of significance. This overlay would typically trigger a need for Ecological Assessment of the site as part of the planning application.
A Cultural Heritage Management Plan (CHMP) assessment is not normally required for “building and works” directly associated with a Dwelling, as such works are considered an exempt activity. This should be confirmed by Council - such reports if required can be quite costly and result in substantial time delays.
A critical element in any planning application assessment, will be the sites ability to retain its effluent waste (septic field) within its lot boundaries, should mains sewer not be available. The proximity to any waterway / dam may also impact the development area of the site. This should be investigated prior to finalising a decision to purchase, as the effluent field may need to be located a certain distance away from any watercourse / dam. Development won’t be approved if the site is unable to retain its septic effluent waste appropriately within the site boundaries, in the abscence of mains sewer.
It is possible to apply for a planning permit for a dwelling on a vacant rural allotment under the planning scheme. However, formal application to Council is the only way to test the merit of any application. Council, VCAT or the Supreme Court can ultimately decide whether a planning permit should issue with regard to any proposed application. The permit application & dwelling siting, should be about balancing the various factors under the planning scheme, including any affect on neighbouring properties & any neighbouring horticultural/agricultural activities.
Planning Application costs and associated third party consultancy reports (BMO, EMO, Arborist etc) could easily result in planning applications costs of typically between $20000 - $30000 for planning applications for dwellings in Green Wedge Areas of the Shire. Should decision at VCAT be required, the costs could be substantially higher.
Please note, that applications for a "new replacement dwelling" of rural lots already containing a dwelling would likely need similar reports to be undertaken as described above, however the existing dwelling (if lawfully constructed & occupied) means the "right to a dwelling" on the rural allotment has already been established for the site. This type of application differs from vacant land application, as the planning assessment will only be considering the proposed built form, design & siting of the dwelling, not whether the lot "should be entitled to a dwelling".