STOP - FIRE! AND HERE’S NSW PLANNING COMING TO THE AID OF STATE MPs


In September 2019, in response to a call for Submissions to NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment’s (DPIE) proposal to do away with residential zoning, and thus circumvent National Construction Codes plus all fire and safety related criteria, NSW Fire+Rescue lodged a submission highly critical of the plan to give short-term rental operators open access to all residential dwellings. FRNSW were not the only ones who voice criticism of that which was/is proposed. And still missing from the DPIE’s website are copies of submissions from the likes of Local Government NSW, Backpackers Operators of NSW, the State Member for Sydney Alex Greenwich MP, Committee for Sydney and many others. While the DPIE was able to upload hundreds of identical submissions for short-term rental landlords, they were unable to upload for public knowledge those of the City of Sydney, Byron Shire, Dubbo, Newcastle, Bega Valley, Blue Mountains, Newcastle and other Councils.


Airbnb has released a Media statement advising that they have ‘partnered’ with Northern Territory, Queensland, Victorian and Tasmanian Farmers “to grow regional tourism”.


Business Insider Australia is spruiking Unyoked..@cabinporn hire company that wants you to treat escaping into nature like going to the gym”. Another company gaining ground, not only in NSW, is Riparide; offering barns, cabins, camping, caravans, glamping, shipping containers, tipis,train carriages, treehouses, vehicles, yerts etc, the issue of development approval and certification doesn’t see the light of day. The owners of one treehouse, listed across multiple websites and located on Skyline Road in the Byron hinterland, have reportedly been instructed to apply for Development Approval. Said approval is unlikely to happen, given that in June last year, Byron Shire Council approved a “15 month (from 18 June 2020) moratorium on enforcement action…granted to land owners with existing unauthorised residential accommodation on their land…to enable them to lodge planning proposals and or development application to Council for assessment under the Unauthorised Residential Accommodation Policy as drafted/adopted at the time of lodgement”.


With housing affordability and availability across much of NSW hitting crisis levels, and Airbnb and others cranking up their drive to recruit more landlords no matter the type of structure or property on offer, what would the NSW State Government and Department of Planning do? The DPIE has quietly posted on their website a statement dealing with “Planning amendments for agriculture”. The DPIE writes that it will ‘make it easier for farmers to establish new complementary business on their land, which includes’:

  • supporting more farm stays by amending the existing definition of ‘farm stay accommodation’ in the Standard Instrument (Local Environmental Plans) Order 2006 and introducing an optional clause councils can choose to adopt in their local plans to manage any impacts

  • enabling events on farms by introducing a new definition for ‘farm events’

  • facilitating farm gate businesses by introducing a new definition for ‘farm gate activities’ and an optional clause councils can choose to adopt in their local plans to manage any impacts

  • introducing fast-track approval pathways, known as exempt and complying development, for these types of agritourism, provided certain development standards are met

  • allowing other low impact agricultural activities as exempt or complying development such as small processing plants where certain development standards are met

  • making minor changes to existing planning controls to make them more effective, such as increasing the separation required for rural dwellings from intensive livestock agriculture, if carried out as complying development.

Local Councils in NSW are being asked to consider whether to adopt the new optional clauses for ‘farm stay accommodation’ and ‘farm gate activities’ and identify the zones in which they wish to allow the new farm events and farm gate activities land uses. Given that Councils across the State have for years now failed to enforce residential zoning in the face of an explosion of illegal short-term rentals, it is possible to imagine that Councils will take the path of least resistance and less work, allowing a free-for-all scenario.


So, on rural property, cafes and restaurants need no special approval, and nor will functions such as weddings etc: 52 times a year as exempt development…”, or in other words, every damned weekend.


These proposed alterations will delight the likes of Deputy Premier John Barilaro and State Opposition Leader Jodi McKay. Assuming the ‘complying development pathway’ zooms through State Parliament, our senior MPs will see their profiteering take on the status of legal income. They might likely see themselves suddenly exempt from paying State Land Tax if the property is claimed as their ‘principle place of residence’, and no longer possibly liable for gross domestic council rates, commercial water rates, commercial public liability insurance, commercial interest rates on any mortgages etc. It also seems they will be exempt from any onsite parking requirements, Federal Disability Access requirements, requirements under the NSW Liquor Licensing Act and the NSW Food Safety Act, meeting the terms of the Hospitality Industry General Award, or the NSW Residential Tenancies Act. MPs and others might also avoid Capital Gains Tax, Corporate Taxes plus other taxes under Federal/State/Local Government legislation.

And might there too be disclosure by DestinationNSW, National Parks NSW and others currently engaged in the “illegal use of premises”?


Have to hand it to the DPIE; news of this proposed major restructuring to Planning Law was slipped out in a tweet on Twitter three days ago.

Someone best flag this issue with NSW Fire+Rescue and the NSW Rural Fire Service. As per coroners’ reports, its staff and volunteers of these two Organisations whose lives are on the line when attempting to extinguish fires and save the lives of occupants in such properties.


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