Wollombi Valley Online
Wollombi Valley Online
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It would appear that, in moves frighteningly reminiscent of similar action taken in 1984, Cessnock City Council (CCC) in consultation with NSW Department of Planning (DoP) will once again try to steal away legal entitlements from property owners in the Rural 1(a) Zone.

At CCC's meeting of the 21st November, councillors passed a motion seeking authorisation from the DoP to place on public exhibition a draft Plan proposing a number of changes to be incorporated into the Cessnock Local Environmental Plan 2008 (LEP see link to the document at the end of this page) and City Wide Settlement Strategy 2007.

Of most significance to local landholders will be the following:

  1. Require a dwelling entitlement for tourist accommodation (a further erosion of rights for land that lost the entitlement to construct a dwelling when the "existing holding" concept was introduced in 1984).
  2. Deletion of the clause relating to rural workers dwellings used in conjunction with a permitted land use (ie the removal of current rights to build a "managers, caretakers or rural workers" cottage on land in the Rural 1(a) Zone)
  3. The removal of "existing holding" provisions.
    What this essentially means is that any property that falls under the 40ha minimum size requirement in the current Rural 1(a) Zone, that is not yet developed (with a residence) or has a Development Application lodged, will lose the entitlement to build a residence and/or tourist accommodation facility (see 1. above).

While any of the above proposals will have a significant negative impact on the value of land (and all land in the Wollombi district is affected by at least one of these proposals) it is the removal of the current "existing holding" provisions that would have the most catastrophic effect on these particular properties with, collectively, many millions of dollars in value being removed by the adoption of this proposal. Remember, these properties were procured for a price reflective of what legal entitlements they had at the time they were purchased. It has been our experience that a minimum 50% to 60% reduction in value can be expected for a block of land that does not have an entitlement to apply to build a residence.

Any landowner who may be impacted by these proposed changes to the LEP should immediately seek further information from the relevant authorities and make representation, both individually and collectively through local community organisations, at local and state levels of government to have these proposals immediately withdrawn.

Steve Annis-Brown

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