Murwillumbah farmer Colin Brooks is not pleased with the latest draft of the Tweed Shire Council’s Rural Land Strategy. PICTURE: Scott Powick.
Murwillumbah farmer Colin Brooks is not pleased with the latest draft of the Tweed Shire Council’s Rural Land Strategy. PICTURE: Scott Powick.

Farmers wants ignored again in draft strategy

RURAL land owners are preparing to watch council attempt to push another Rural Land Strategy which doesn't allow an easy pass for second dwellings - and they are not happy.

Another draft of the strategy will be voted for endorsement from councillors at Thursday's meeting in Murwillumbah, after the previous draft was retracted in March.

The halt on the strategy in March was to allow for further consultation between council staff, councillors and rural land owners.

But once again the opportunity for rural land owners to easily build a second dwelling on their properties will not feature on this draft, according to one of Tweed's prominent rural advocates.

Colin Brooks, president of the Combined Tweed Rural Industries Association, said the ability to build a second dwelling was of vital importance to rural land owners.

"Land owners have been asking for many years for the ability to build another dwelling on their land," Mr Brooks said.

"It is to bring family back to assist the older generation to look after the farm.

"The second reason is to provide a second source of income that is independent of the farming which would enable farmers to be farmers, rather than having to leave their farm every day to work somewhere else.

"There are some allowances in the rural land strategy to allow for extra dwellings, but they are too restrictive for what we have been asking and they are out of step from other shires who have approved second dwellings on farm land."

One of the major arguments against the dwelling is the fear extra housing, approximately 2600 new dwellings, will cause a population rise which the shire would struggle to deal with.

These arguments have been led by Tweed Mayor Katie Milne, who has expressed concerns with second dwellings on properties during council meetings this year.

Mr Brooks said the proposal that a possible 2600 new dwelling will be built if council allows farmers to build again on their properties was not feasible.

"That is absolute rubbish - scare mongering. The reality is there are many farms which have historically had more than one dwelling so they don't get another, there are farmers who are not interested in building another dwelling," he said.

"The uptake will be nothing like what Mayor Milne has been claiming.

"It is another avenue which should be provided for farmers to allow them to make their properties viable."

While there were aspects of the draft which were appealing, the majority of rural land owners were not happy with the proposed strategy according to Mr Brooks.

He said many felt as if they were not being listened to throughout the consultation period and encouraged as many as possible to attend the meeting at the Murwillumbah chamber on Thursday night.

"I think it is important to be there to reinforce to the councillors that rural land owners see this as an extremely important document which will impact upon what they can and can't do on their land.

"Farmers feel they have not been adequately consulted.

"We can't seem to get through to council that putting messages on their website and Facebook is not a satisfactory way to communicate with the farming community."



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