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Getting around Zoning laws in Australia

Posts: 35
Location: Australia
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Hi folks,

Firstly, this is going to be quite a long post. Apologies in advance. Also I thought this might be the best forum to post on, but perhaps the mods could move it for me if not?

I've been looking around for a little bit of land to start a tiny homestead for my husband and I. We're not planning on moving there full-time straight away as we're both still working in town, but would ideally spend the next 5-10 years establishing the orchard and developing the land before moving there.

Now here's the kicker: the areas that we're looking at have some hard-core zoning rules. The most irritating one is that if your land is zoned for farming, you're not allowed to build a dwelling on the land unless the land size is less than 10 acres. The rationale behind this is that they don't want valuable productive land that could be used for intensive primary production being used as 'rural lifestyle homes' and hobby farms etc. Because of this rule, there are parcels of land on just over 10 acres that sell for relatively little (less than $100k - that's cheap in Oz!) where you might pay between $100-200k more for land that is less than 10 acres, or for land more than 10 acres that already has a super run down dwelling on the land (since existing dwellings are exempt...but then you're stuck trying to retrofit that dwelling because you won't get a permit to build a new one).

You can get around this 'no dwelling' rule by proving that you need to have a dwelling on the land in order to manage your primary production endeavours on the land... But this is pretty tricky, especially when all you've got a purchase time is bare grass. When the property is established we might go down that route though.

But in the meantime, I've been thinking of ways to get around this. I'd like to build something permanent there, so that we don't have to take up valuable space in the car with a tent when we go down there to do some work on the place, and without using the car to tow a caravan when we could be towing a work trailer with things we need to take there. So something permanent. Ideally, something permanent that has been designed and built as the home we would want, but that doesn't classify as a dwelling yet...

Now we don't need a permit to build a building with less than 200square metres floor space. And Council Planning Schemes define a dwelling as a building used as a self-contained residence which must include:
a) a kitchen sink;
b) food preparation facilities;
c) a bath or shower; and
d) a closet pan (toilet) and wash basin.

The definition contains two limbs to be considered; firstly the inclusion of all of the four types of facilities above; and secondly the ‘use of the building as a self-contained residence’.

(There's no council definition for 'self contained residence', but International law defines the term ‘dwelling’ as a place of continual or habitual residence, where residence has the element of residing permanently, or for a considerable time. ‘Self-contained’ residence means having a kitchen, bedroom and toilet.)

So I was thinking.. Perhaps we could design and build the home we want (which would be off grid anyway) making sure it's less than 200sqm, but not include any internal plumbing, and not fit a kitchen sink. We'd have a rainwater tank to collect water from the roof, and could just fill buckets every morning to use for washing dishes etc, and fill a benchtop urn for drinking water.

Does this sound like a feasable plan? Has anyone done anything like this before?

Posts: 9002
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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Eggs and dairy both sound like things that need an attendant. Mushrooms need regular monitoring.

Many areas have a culture of ranching. Twenty acres is just a small parcel to be added to a large holding. Laws like you have, tend to favor ownership by those who already have adjacent land.

Check to see if production over a certain amount per acre would put the land into a different category.

My best guess is that these laws exist mainly as a means of allocating water. Those larger properties may gather more rain than they use. A small intensive operation will often use more water than what falls from the sky.
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My best guess is that these laws exist mainly as a means of allocating water.

There are probably lots of rationales (excuses) but it just boils down to control of people. I don't think much is to be gained (for us peons anyway) by accepting excuses for tyranny.

If you can go into an area (maybe a small town) where the people think more or less as you do, get a job there or become known and accepted otherwise, your life will be infinitely easier. People are happy to have good neighbors, folks who will give them a hand whenever they need it, and will reciprocate. What they don't want is people with big city habits who have no understanding or respect for how things are done in the country.

If you are accepted, you can probably find a way to get into the rural life, regardless of whether you have a toilet or sink. If you aren't, they will call the bureaucrats to harass you mercilessly. The key is to be useful to others.
Oh, sure, you could do that. Or you could eat some pie. While reading this tiny ad:
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