Farm groups weigh in to planning debate

PLANNING controls are stifling development in marginal metropolitan areas and flourishing tourist centres, according to one of the State’s agricultural lobby groups.

The Pastoralists and Graziers Association says policies developed to protect productive agricultural land are restricting the development potential of some regional properties and robbing landowners of potential income.

PGA communications director Geoff Gare said the Government was extending its city planning system into the regions.

The Statement of Planning Policy No 11: Agricultural and Rural Land Use Planning was launched in March this year, following a lengthy development process dating back to 1994.

A spokeswoman from the Department of Planning and Infrastructure said there was a need to protect agricultural land for the future.

“A draft statement was put out in 1999 and that went out for public comment and we got 1,000 submissions,” she said.

Mr Gare said about 300 of the submissions received by the department strongly opposed the new planning policy.

“The issue is that property rights are being diminished,” Mr Gare said. “We argue that this is a public cost.

“Individual landowners should not be made to bear the cost.”

Mr Gare said the increase in the Government’s statutory and planning policies was scandalous.

Planning and Infrastructure Minister Alannah MacTiernan recently announced that the State Government would not amend the Metropolitan Region Scheme to allow urban development in Marginiup, located just to the north of Joondalup.

Ms McTiernan said the Western Australian Planning Commission had recommended against the rezoning – a position that was now supported by the City of Wanneroo.

“Local member Dianne Guise forcibly argued that residents had chosen to live in Marginiup because of its rural character,” she said.

“An urban zoning could have led to future restrictions on these rural activities.”

The PGA’s position on rural zoning is not shared by the State’s other main farm representative body, WAFarmers.

“From an agricultural point of view we think it’s [SPP11] a great thing; it protects agricultural land for agricultural purposes,” WAFarmers policy director Andy McMillan said.

“It’s got a few noses out of joint but we are more interested in protecting farmers than speculators.”

It’s understood the new policy has impacted on property owners who were planning to subdivide or develop land, especially in rapidly developing tourist centres.

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