Planning Reform Series – Rural Land Divisions within the Environment and Food Production Area no longer compliant under the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016

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Planning Reform Series – Rural Land Divisions within the Environment and Food Production Area no longer compliant under the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016

Since the introduction of the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016 South Australia has been undergoing a large scale modernisation of its planning system. Our planning reform series takes a look at the changes and how they will impact South Australians with plans to renovate, subdivide or develop land. In our first blog of the series written by Head of Conveyancing, Gemma Wallace, we considered the outline of these planning reforms. In this second blog Gemma discusses the restrictions on rural land divisions within the Environmental and Food Production Areas (EFPA’s) and how they are impacting landowners within the EFPAs

While the focus on reforms and changes introduced under Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016 (“PDI Act”) have been centred around the new Planning and Development Code and the three phased roll out of the new development rules and zoning policies, South Australians with the view to subdivide and develop Primary Production and Rural Land have to take into account the introduction of the Environment and Food Production Areas (EFPA’s) protection policy.

Essentially the EFPA covers all existing rural lands surrounding greater Adelaide. It is the built up area to the north along the Gawler River, southwards along the foothills extending to the West of McLaren Vale and down towards the southern Fleurieu. (see map below)

The Environment and Food Production Areas (EFPAs) have been introduced to safeguard important agricultural lands around Adelaide from further urban expansion. The new protection areas covering the rural areas of the Adelaide Plains, Alexandrina, Light and Murray Bridge Councils, were introduced on 1 April 2017. Much like the Planning and Development Code roll out, land division applications creating additional residential allotments within the EFPAs were subject to a “phase” period that has now, for the most part, expired making applications for land division in these areas generally unable to be approved.

We understand that upon introduction of the EFPAs property owners of Primary Production, Rural and Rural Living Zone land within the protected areas were directly informed of the changes. We are aware that public information sessions were held. However some of our clients have queried whether the information was provided directly and transparently or whether they received it.

A transition period from 1 April 2017 ending on 31 March 2019 allowed land divisions in applications creating one or more additional allotment within the EFPA area to be lodged for assessment. From 1 April 2019, land division applications to create one or more additional allotments within EFPAs were no longer permitted.

A map from the SA Planning Portal Outlining the EFPA is below

A new tool has been created and is available if a land owner is unsure whether they are located within an EFPA area. The public are able to enter an address into an interactive overlay map to ascertain whether or not they fall within the EFPA. This interactive overlay map is free for public access and can be found

It is important to note the EFPAs do not affect the development of new buildings or structures, only subdivision. Applications for these proposals can continue to be lodged with council until July 2020 and following this date, lodged by uploading to the SA Planning Portal in accordance with the Planning and Development Code.

While to some the EFPAs place restrictions on their ability to further divide and use the land, in some cases for the very purpose to which they purchased in the first instance, it is important to consider why the Environment and Food Production Areas have been introduced and how they aim to ensure our State’s continued place on a global stage for prized food and wine production and impressive natural landscapes.

We South Australian’s are proud of our primary production and premium food industries and protecting these areas, in turn, protects our food security, economic growth, local jobs and tourism. The EFPAs are to a great extent in line with Character Preservation Areas in the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale, which have been in place since 2012 and which have been widely positively received by residents to those areas.

The new policy relating to the EFPAs do not affect development proposals for new buildings, structures or land division for purposes other than for new housing. However, the establishment of these new protected areas has had, in our experience, some effect on regular home and land owners in these areas who intended to apply to divide land for small scale or personal new housing that, in their opinion, would have no limiting effect on food production and who do not feel as if the public consultation period or the availability of information relating to the implementation of timeframes was adequate.

The Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI) has recently clarified enquires by the public relating to the operation of Section 7 of the PDI Act relating to land division creating new allotments within the EFPA. They have outlined that Section 7 provides for 3 things in relation to land division creating 1 or more additional allotments within the EFPA

  1.  Mandates refusal of any land division that creates additional allotments to be used for residential purposes;
  2. Requires the Commission’s concurrence for any other land divisions that create 1 or more additional allotments that will not create additional allotments for residential purposes, or Council concurrence if the relevant authority is the Commission or the Minister; and
  3. Provides that any land division approved will be subject to the condition that the additional allotments will not be used for residential purposes (the Practice Direction)(

For some this clarification has come too late, having purchased within an EFPA zone with the intent on creating a new allotment and missing the key dates for a granting of approval.

For others the EFPAs provide a vital protection against medium and high density housing development, such as we have seen in and around Mount Barker and Aldinga, where pristine farming land and beautiful natural landscape has been turned into “Truman Village” style living.

For townships within the EFPAs such as Murray Bridge, Strathalbyn, Victor Harbor, Yankalilla, Goolwa, Kapunda, Mallala and Two Wells (amongst others) boundaries where restrictions do not apply have been adjusted to line with land supply considerations for growth models for the individual towns.

DPTI maintain there will be abundant supplies of residential land outside of the EFPA to ensure there is at least 27 years of supply of housing within commuting distance of our capital city.

Affordable housing rules continue to be a part of metropolitan developments and Renewal SA, Local Councils and DPTI are committed to fulfilling the potential of redevelopment opportunities and urban high density infill in appropriate locations.

Regardless of public opinion on the EFPAs and their implementation as part of the overarching reforms  set by the PDI Act, the EFPA will continue to underpin the future of SA planning in vital food productions areas.

While Johnston Withers Lawyers and Conveyancers continue to assist our clients in relation to all aspects of Property Law and Conveyancing it is important to ensure planning advice is sought when purchasing land with the intent of subdividing or developing. Advice can be sought from your local council planning team, State Planning Assessment or a specialised Planning expert. This article is not intended to constitute planning advice.

For more information you may refer to the SA Planning Portal or you are able to access many government fact sheets regarding the Environment and Food Production Areas by following these links;

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