(1) With respect to Agritourism planning changes:
(a) Why did the Minister instruct his department to reverse previous assurances given to councils prior to March this year that they could prohibit the new Agritourism land uses in all rural zones?
(b) Why have you reversed the basis of the Agritourism initiative, which was intended to supplement farmers' incomes in times of drought, with the unannounced fundamental change that allows landowners to "earn more income from their agritourism business than their primary production business” on an ongoing basis?
(c) What consultation was undertaken with communities and stakeholders about these changes?
(i) Can the Minister provide detail of this consultation other than the initial media release, the Planning Portal and the Facebook campaign targeting those with interest in agriculture related activities?
(d) What changes were made to the initial policy proposals based on this community and industry consultation?
(e) On 6 April 2022, the Director of State and Regional Economy stated that "development standards that are proposed for exempt and complying development are being set at a limit to ensure that the activities remain small scale and low impact, and they are ancillary in nature. For example, in relation to the farm experience premises use, a farming business would only be able to erect a new building or convert an existing building that is up to 100sqm in floor area." Why did the Minister instruct his department to reverse this position and increase the maximum size to 200sqm?
(f) What stakeholders did the Minister meet with in favour and against this proposal before March 2022 and in the period March to September 2022?
(g) When did the Minister’s Department commence working on these proposed policy changes?
(i) Were there any parliamentary or industry inquiries prior to this work commencing?
(h) What advice and support will the Minister and his department offer to councils who believe their limited compliance resources will be overwhelmed by the proliferation of significant unregulated commercial activity resulting from exempt and complying development to be permitted in the rural environment?
(i) Will the Minister consider pausing the policy and instead instructing his department to work with local councils to map appropriate locations for policy changes to support agritourism rather than blanket changes to planning policies?
(i) If not, why not?
I am advised:
(1) (a)-(c) and (g)The agritourism planning reforms aim to make it easier for primary producers to set up, run and grow agritourism experiences on their farms. Agritourism showcases what’s unique about a region, educates the public about farm-to-plate, and encourages the next generation to farm the land.
Research by the NSW Small Business Commission and Service NSW in 2018-19, under the Making Business Easier program, identified blockages in the planning system which prevented famers doing their preferred agritourism activities and subjected them to delays and costs associated with development applications.
State-wide public consultation on the agritourism proposals in early 2021 and subsequent consultation with industry about the types of agritourism farmers are already doing, confirmed the need for broad land use terms, broad applicability, and simpler and low-cost planning pathways for minor development. This encourages innovation and saves farmers time and money.
To protect prime agricultural land, agritourism must be ancillary to the farm but could bring in more income than the agricultural operations, particularly during periods of drought or other circumstances beyond the farmer’s control.
(1) (d) This information is publicly available at www.planning.nsw.gov.au/agritourism
(1) (e) Farm buildings up to 1200sqm can be built under complying development. A 200sqm building is about the size of a small shed and is not significant for farming properties but will enable a viable agritourism business. Development standards will limit impacts of events on neighbours, roads and amenity.
(f) My diary is publicly disclosed.
(1) (h) For the first time, the reforms give clear definitions and metrics for agritourism development that can be easily understood by farmers, neighbours and councils.
These measures reduce uncertainty for the farming community and will assist council officers when taking compliance action.
(1) (i) By starting the agritourism changes on 1 December, farmers can benefit from the policy over the summer period, including farmers recovering from recent floods. The Department of Planning and Environment is working with councils to ensure agritourism is permitted in the right places and local issues are considered. The agritourism policy will be monitored over the next 12 months to ensure it responds to community expectations.
The Parliament of New South Wales acknowledges and respects the traditional lands of all Aboriginal people, and pays respects to all Elders past and present. We acknowledge the Gadigal people as the traditional custodians of the land on which the Parliament of New South Wales stands.