Home 9 Subdivision 9 Minimum Lot Size for Rural Zones

Minimum Lot Size Requirements within Rural Zones

The Draft Hilltops LEP continues the use of Minimum Lot Size (MLS) requirements within rural areas of Hilltops. Consistent with State policy, the Minimum Lot Size requirements are used in rural areas to protect productive rural lands from fragmentation and under utilisation. To achieve this, the MLS controls do not impact on the subdivision of lands for rural production purposes , however do impact on the ability to create a lot to accommodate a dwelling.

The Minimum Lot Size for a Dwelling is also intended to ensure lands are capable of sustaining their primary use, such as for primary production.

Proposed RU1 Minimum Lot Size remains as existing within the current LEPs:

  • 40ha for Former Boorowa and Harden Shire
  • 24ha and 170ha for former Young Shire

Proposed RU4 Minimum Lot Size remains as existing within the current LEPs, varying from 2ha, 4ha, 12ha, 15ha and 24ha

To find where the RU1 Primary Production Zone and its Minimum Lot Size is located, view and search using the Online Map Viewer.

Additionally, you can find more information about the Minimum Lot Size in Rural Zones in Attachment D – Planning Proposal – Residential and Rural Minimum Lot Size.

Find out more about proposed changes to Minimum Lot Sizes in Rural Zones including:

  • RU1 Primary Production
  • RU4 Primary Production Small Lots

Minimum Lot Size Requirements in the RU1 Primary Production Zone

In Rural Land the aim of the minimum lot size control is to protect the long-term sustainability of agriculture by preventing fragmentation of productive agricultural land. As well as in Rural Land to minimize the potential for land use conflict where new residential housing encroaches on primary production land and resource areas.
It is proposed that the minimum lot size for in rural lands corresponds with the following zones and associated objectives for the:

  • RU1 Primary Production Zone Minimum Lot Size criteria in the context of rural land primarily focuses on agricultural land use in the Primary Production RU1 zone are:
    • Protect the long-term sustainability of agriculture
    • Avoid fragmentation of productive agricultural lands.
    • Minimise potential land use conflict
    • Protecting supply chain for agriculture including:
    • Resources
    • Connectivity to markets

Particularly for Rural Land, the NSW Government has a variety of tiers of legislation and policy that guides the protection and development of agricultural land from the Department of Planning Industry and Environment and Department of Primary Industries.

These include:

Key objectives from these policies which assist in determining minimum lot size include:

  • Protection of agricultural production value of rural land
  • Minimising the potential for land fragmentation and land use conflict in rural areas, particularly between residential and other rural land uses,
  • Protecting natural resources used by agriculture;

Criteria for Minimum Lot Size in RU1 Primary Production Zone

Hilltops is a majority large rural area with different characteristics in its rural land from its location, land use, biophysical characteristics and value as agricultural land.

Therefore, a distinction between differing locations is appropriate in the application of a minimum lot size for a dwelling.

This minimum lot size for differing locations is recommended to be based upon the following criteria:
• Protection of productive agricultural rural lands
• Preventing fragmentation and generational loss of agricultural land
• Minimising and avoiding potential land use conflict
• Environmental impact and protection of natural resources used for agriculture
• Biophysical Characteristics of rural land

Important Agricultural Land Mapping (IAL) , a project undertaken by Department of Primary Industries NSW will further illustrate this variation and is expected to released, when writing the Planning Proposal in November 2020. However its timing has been delayed a number of times and is expected sometime in late 2021.

The Important Agricultural Land Mapping is Direction 8.1 of the South East and Tablelands Regional Plan and will assist in making decisions regarding the Minimum Lot Size in RU1 Primary Production Land. 

According to the South East and Tablelands Regional Plan, the purpose of the IAL Mapping is to assist local government with developing strategic land use plans and protect identified important agricultural land from land use conflict and fragmentation and manage the interface between important agricultural land and other land uses through LEPs.

It is well understood that Council requires a consistent and robust approach for Minimum Lot Size in terms of the exact size that provides uniformity throughout the Hilltops LGA.

Nevertheless, the various criteria outlined above including the Important Agricultural Land Mapping (IAL) will be the key determining factors to address issues related to MLS and its consistency in the RU1 Primary Production Zone. 

The biggest implication of harmonising the RU1 Primary Production Zone is noting the difficulty in providing a justified and consistent approach for minimum lot sizes across all of Hilltops LGA without supporting information and data from Department of Primary Industries. Therefore, Council at this point in time is unable to be consistent with the aims of the Regional Plan or Councils intent to achieve harmonisation between the three current LEPs, recommending the current proposal for the existing minimum lot sizes to apply within the RU1 Zone. 

It is proposed therefore for the existing minimum lot sizes within the corresponding with the current Boorowa, Harden and Young LEPs’ RU1 minimum lot sizes to remain as is.

The Minimum Lot Size requirements to allow the construction or habitation of a dwelling in the RU1 – Primary Production Zone remains the same as those currently in place within the existing:

  • Boorowa Local Environmental Plan 2012 – 40 ha
  • Harden Local Environmental Plan 2011 – 40 ha, and
  • Young Local Environmental Plan 2010 – 24 ha and 170 ha

You can find more detailed discussion and information about the RU1 Zone Minimum Lot Size and other Minmum Lot Size Discussion in Attachment D – Planning Proposal – Residential and Rural Minimum Lot Size.  

Minimum Lot Size Requirements in the RU4 Primary Production Small Lots Zone

In Semi-Rural land, the aim of the minimum lot size controls is to accommodate individual dwellings and associated uses in a semi-rural environment whilst not causing potential land use conflict with surrounding agricultural uses. This includes ensuring all allotments can accommodate the sustainable management of on-site sewer treatment.

Semi-rural lands provide an additional lifestyle option which has been popular within Hilltops over the last forty years and likely to continue to be for some time.
The semi-rural aesthetics and greater provision of private open space is an attractive proposition and a significant component of the Hilltops housing market. However, large lot residential land also needs to be of sufficient size to avoid potential conflict with adjacent rural production values and natural resources,

Minimum Lot Sizes in RU4

RU4 Primary Production Small Lots – Inner Ring, Young

Lot Size is dependant on connectivity to reticulated water and/or sewer services.

  • A minimum of 2 hectares is considered if not connected to reticulated water and/or sewer services.

Only if the consent authority is satisfied that each lot will be connected to the Council’s reticulated water supply system, a minimum of 1 hectare is considered.

RU4 Primary Production Small Lots – Outer Ring and Other

Around Outer Ring of RU4 Zone in Young, Minimum Lot Size varies in Young LEP 2010 and is continued in the consolidated Hilltops LEP as:

  • 4 hectares
  • 12 hectares
  • 24 hectares

and effective management of biosecurity risks such as vermin and weed control.

Young LEP Boorowa LEP Harden LEP
Zone Lot size Lot size Lot size
RU4 Primary Production Small Lots 5000 m2 – 24 ha NA 2 ha – 15 ha

Proposed Lot Size RU4 Zone

RU4 Primary Production Small Lots
Inner Ring

Lot Size dependant on connectivity to reticulated water and/or sewer services

  • 2 hectares minimum if not connected to reticulated water and/or sewer services
Outer Ring and Other

Continued Lot Size Variation of:

  • 4 hectares
  • 12 hectares
  • 24 hectares

Varied based on:

  • agricultural production context and buffering,
  • infrastructure servicing,
  • road access,
  • environmental factors such as:
    • topography,
    • water catchments,
    • soil types,
    • nature conservation values.
    • biodiversity and flooding

R5 Large Lot Residential Zone purpose is for residential housing in a rural setting, often adjacent to towns where as the RU4 Primary Production Small Lot Zone purpose is for small lot agricultural production.

The objectives of the RU4 Primary Production Small Lots zone prescribed in the LEP are:

  • To enable sustainable primary industry and other compatible land uses.
  • To encourage and promote diversity and employment opportunities in relation to primary industry enterprises, particularly those that require smaller lots or that are more intensive in nature.
  • To minimise conflict between land uses within this zone and land uses within adjoining zones.

The main challenge for Council is to meet community expectations in terms of service delivery in these low-density residential zones, and at the same time protect the productive capacity of rural lands and minimize land fragmentation.

A large proportion of Hilltops’ semi-rural land (RU4), particularly around Young was the heart of a major orcharding industry, but this industry has relocated and is declining over time. In parallel, an increasing demand for the use of these lands for semi-rural residential lifestyle blocks has emerged. This has been accommodated by a relatively low minimum lot size compared to other rural production lands, which was established to support intensive agricultural activity.

However, now supports their subdivision and use as lifestyle lots.

As mentioned above, the purpose of the RU4 zone is predominantly for intensive plant agriculture, thus the development of this land for residential purpose with minimum lot size provisions should be monitored to evaluate its effective and efficient use and the increasing demand for services.

This is particularly relevant to lands adjacent to Young which currently accommodate hobby farms and residential lifestyle blocks. These were not planned for in relation to capacity and layout of the local road network or implications on stormwater and demand for additional services such as electricity.

It is recommended that any future development and lot sizes in this area need to be managed considering the topography, water catchments, soil types, indigenous values, and nature conservation values.

Criteria that influence or govern minimum lot sizes in Semi-rural lands include:

  • Connection to Essential Services Infrastructure
    • Reticulated Sewer
    • Reticulated Water
    • Road Access
    • Stormwater
    • the ability of the site to accommodate on site effluent disposal
  • Context of natural environment
    • topography
    • water catchments
    • soil types
    • nature conservation values
    • Preventing future urban release area expansion
  • Context of surrounding primary production agriculture
    • Buffers to sustain rural production values.
    • Minimise Land Use Conflict
    • Prevent Land fragmentation
    • prevent productive agricultural land
    • use of sterilized or unproductive land

The key factor for determining minimum lot size for semi-rural lands is the ability to connect to reticulated water or sewer services. Therefore, an inclusion of an “Essential Services” provision within the minimum lot size is recommended as below:

Clause: Essential services in the RU4 Zone

This clause applies to land in Zone RU4 Primary Production Small Lots.

Development consent must not be granted to development on land to which this clause applies unless the consent authority is satisfied that any of the following services that are essential for the proposed development are available or that adequate arrangements have been made to make them available when required:

  • the supply of water,
  • the supply of electricity,
  • the disposal and management of sewage,
  • stormwater drainage or on-site conservation,
  • suitable road access.
  • This clause does not apply to development for the following purposes:
    • providing, extending, augmenting, maintaining or repairing any public utility infrastructure,
    • the subdivision of land that is more than 800 metres from any public sewer main or is intended only to:
    • enlarge the area of an existing lot, or
    • rectify any encroachment on an existing lot, or
    • open a new road

If residential development is not connected or partly connected to water or sewer infrastructure, then a higher minimum lot size is proposed.

If not connected, then on site sewer management is required and reliant on rainwater for potable supply and bore water for non-potable use if not connected to reticulated water supply. These trigger Australian, State and Local Standards and policies. The guiding documents for onsite sewer management are:

  • Australian Standard AS/NZS 1547 Onsite domestic wastewater management
  • Environment & Health Protection Guidelines – On-site Sewage Management for Single Households (1998)
  • Councils Onsite Sewerage Management Policy

For a minimum lot size, 2 hectares is proposed for the RU4 zone where the primary use is for residential development within proximity to townships.

2-hectare recommendation is drawn from the ability and sustainable use of onsite sewer management for a property that can be achieved alongside historic rural residential minimum lot size.

Additionally, given the context and environmental consideration such as the topography of land, geology, creeks, streams and overland flows as well as the consideration of biodiversity corridors this lot size provides opportunities to adequately address these considerations.

Also, a lower minimum lot size can be achieved if Council is satisfied that a property is connected to reticulated water and sewer networks.

Outer ring of RU4 Primary Production lands around Young

As noted in Hilltops Rural and Residential Lands Study:

Historically, the intention of the land use controls applying around Young (RU4 zone) was that it should be preserved for horticulture use; specifically prunes and cherries. Dwellings were only intended to be allowed in circumstances where they could be demonstrated to be ancillary to the agricultural use of the land.

In a legitimate RU4 zone, dwellings should only be permitted in circumstances where they are ancillary to the use of the land for productive agriculture.

The RU4 land around Young is extensive, with 19,997ha area zoned as RU4 Primary Production Small Lots, with a varied minimum lot size from 4 ha up to 24 ha has created fragmentation and limited development in an orderly manner.

Criteria that influence or govern minimum lot sizes in Semi rural lands include:

  • Infrastructure Access particularly roads / Servicing
  • the ability of the site to accommodate on site effluent disposal.
  • Context of natural environment
  • topography,
  • water catchments,
  • soil types,
  • nature conservation values.
  • Biodiversity and flooding
  • Preventing future urban release area expansion
  • Context of surrounding primary production agriculture:
  • Buffers to sustain rural production values.
  • Minimise Land Use Conflict
  • Prevent Land fragmentation
  • prevent productive agricultural land;
  • use of sterilized or unproductive land

Therefore a similar recommendation is proposed in line with Hilltops Rural and Residential Lands Study 2019 and previous Sue Haertsch Planning and David Lock Associates Study in 2011 that a varied minimum lot size approach be taken.

Targeted subdivision to 2 hectares is indicated in locations close to the existing urban edge where the agricultural potential is medium to low.

These relatively small rural holdings may in part satisfy the demand for rural living.

A 12 hectare minimum lot size is proposed within the middle ring areas.

A 24 hectare minimum lot size is proposed for land on the north eastern and south western fringes of the study area. These areas contain land which is predominantly of high agricultural suitability and are not significantly affected by fragmentation.

Sue Haertsch Planning and David Lock Associates, 2011

However it is noted that, further analysis is required relating to the demand created by semi rural residential lots on infrastructure such as roads and the ability to recoup infrastructure contributions charges for semi rural development to upgrade to suitable level. 

You can find more detailed discussion and information about the RU4 Zone Minimum Lot Size and other Minimum Lot Size Discussion in Attachment D – Planning Proposal – Residential and Rural Minimum Lot Size.  

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