Amendment to ease planning for rural worker accommodation

An amendment has been made to simplify the Planning Schemes for all Victorian municipalities with a Farming Zone, exempting the use of land for the purposes of rural worker accommodation.

Swan Hill Rural City Council’s Director Development and Planning, Heather Green said that farming zones on a minimum land area of 40 acres were now eligible to build worker accommodation in these zones, providing a number of conditions were met.

“This amendment is a great step forward, it will enable on farm accommodation for seasonal workers with minimal red tape – something that is currently in great demand, particularly in our region,” she said.

Ms Green said a number of conditions needed to be met in order to achieve a permit exemption, including a new definition for the term ‘Rural Worker Accommodation’.

“To prevent these new accommodation facilities being used as permanent housing, the definition of rural worker accommodation has been clearly stated, as follows:

“Land used to accommodate a person engaged in agricultural production away from their normal place of residence.”

“The exemption requires the worker to have normal place of residence apart from the on farm accommodation,” Ms Green added.

Ms Green said this is an important step in increasing the number of safe and secure beds available for seasonal workers across the municipality

“Council acknowledges the important role that farmers play in driving the local agriculture economy.

“By supporting local farmers to provide safe accommodation to their workforce, it enables continued growth in our already successful agriculture sector,” Ms Green said.

Ms Green said that other approvals including building and wastewater permits were still required for the dwellings.

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