Rural Lands Study2019-12-31T09:16:19+10:00

Rural Lands Study

We understand there is significant interest in the community about our rural lands and how they are managed. Although we have undertaken planning control reviews and community surveys in the past, we have not undertaken a comprehensive evidence-based Rural Lands Study since 1995. A lot has changed since that time.

Council is now undertaking a new Rural Lands Study to set the strategic direction for the rural areas within Hornsby Shire. The Study will help Council decide how Rural Lands will be managed into the future. It will address State Government requirements in the North District Plan to use place-based planning to maintain the values of the rural area and deliver targeted environmental, social and economic outcomes.

The first step in a place-based planning approach is to divide the rural areas into smaller landscape areas and develop a character statement for each. A Landscape area is a place with shared characteristics such as landform, vegetation, land uses and other unique qualities. It is an area defined by the way a place looks and feels, and what makes it unique.

Identifying landscape areas will enable the final draft Study to provide specific recommendations for each landscape area. This approach has regard to the unique character and attributes of individual landscape areas to determine what is appropriate for the future of that area.

Want to find out more?

See below a link to find your property in relation to the landscape area boundaries, the background report and responses to frequently asked questions.

Find your property in relation to landscape area boundaries
Background Report – Draft Landscape Areas

Frequently Asked Questions

When did Council decide to undertake a new Rural Lands Study?2019-08-20T10:07:11+10:00

In October 2018, Council endorsed a program of work which will ensure the Hornsby Local Environmental Plan (HLEP) 2013 is aligned to the planning priorities and actions in the North District Plan and to inform a Local Strategic Planning Statement (LSPS).

The endorsed program of work includes a Rural Lands Study to consider the future of the rural areas in the context of the actions and responsibilities in the North District Plan, including support of a placed-based planning approach to  conserve the rural character of these areas.

What is the North District Plan?2019-08-20T13:53:09+10:00

The North District Plan was released by the Greater Sydney Commission in March 2018. It provides a 20-year plan to manage growth. It aims to enhance the liveability, productivity and sustainability of Sydney into the future and sets out planning priorities and actions for councils to respond to and address in their planning policies.

The Rural Lands Study will need to address the requirements of the North District Plan, in particular Planning Priority N18: Better Managing Rural Areas. The objective of this Planning Priority is to ensure the environmental, social and economic values of rural areas are protected and enhanced.

The Plan includes the following actions for rural areas:

Action 69.  – Maintain and enhance the values of the Metropolitan Rural Area using place-based planning to deliver targeted environmental, social and economic outcomes.

Action 70. – Limit urban development to within the Urban Area.

Find Out More and Download the Plan
Why do we need another Rural Lands Study?2019-08-20T10:13:13+10:00

Council has obligations under the North District Plan to align its planning policies with the actions and responsibilities outlined in the Plan. This new Study is required to address the actions of Planning Priority N18: Better Managing Rural Areas of the North District Plan and set the strategic direction for our rural lands into the future.

Council’s planning framework for the rural areas has been informed by previous studies. Although Council has completed planning control reviews and community surveys in the past, the last comprehensive evidence-based study was completed in 1995. A lot has changed since this time, with new pressures and opportunities emerging.

The Study will build on the work of previous studies and identify challenges, constraints and opportunities for rural areas. The Study will provide the evidence and include recommendations for how we manage rural lands into the future.

What previous studies and work has Council done on rural areas?2019-08-20T10:14:12+10:00

Council’s approach to guiding development within the rural areas of the Shire to date has been informed by previous studies including:

  • The Rural Lands Study 1995;
  • Rural Resource Study 2006;
  • Rural Lands Planning Provisions 2009; and
  • Rural Lands Planning Community Issues survey undertaken in 2014.

The 1995 Rural Lands Study was the last comprehensive evidence-based Study that was completed. This Study informed the zoning and planning controls and lot sizes in our Local Environmental Plan (LEP). Other studies and surveys completed since that time have informed modifications to Council’s planning controls.

What was the outcome of the 2014 community survey?2019-12-19T10:49:33+10:00

The 2014 survey identified there was community support for the introduction of a number of development opportunities, including larger granny flats, introducing attached dual occupancies as a permissible land use and permitting larger roadside stalls that sell local produce.

The results of the survey indicated mixed support for and against reducing the minimum allotment sizes.

In response to the outcomes of the survey, Council initiated a planning proposal to amend the Local Environmental Plan (LEP) to provide opportunities for additional development supported in the community survey. In November 2016, amendments to the LEP were finalised that allowed the following development opportunities on rural zoned land:

  • Secondary dwellings up to 33% of the size of the principal dwelling (increased from 20%);
  • Attached dual occupancy up to 200sqm in floor area;
  • Roadside stalls up to 40sqm; and
  • Split zone lots (comprising rural and environmental protection zoned land) with a total area that complies with the rural zone lot size and maintains a minimum one-fifth of the site as rural zoned land.
What areas of the Hornsby Shire will be included in the Study2019-08-20T10:20:35+10:00

The Study will address the area defined under the State Government’s North District Plan as the Metropolitan Rural Area within Hornsby Shire. It includes the suburbs of Wisemans Ferry, Laughtondale, Singletons Mill, Canoelands, Maroota, Forest Glen, Fiddletown, Glenorie, Arcadia, Berilee, Middle Dural, Galston, Dural and Glenhaven. 

View Map of the Study Area
Who is preparing the Rural Lands Study?2019-08-20T10:21:27+10:00

Council has engaged the services of SGS Economics and Planning in partnership with RMCG (an environmental and agricultural consultancy) to undertake the Rural Lands Study.

What is the timeline for the Study?2020-06-09T15:25:57+10:00

The Study process is outlined in the table below:

Date Stage Task
July/August 2019 Stage 1 – Existing Situation Review of background material, including Council’s previous Studies and planning controls. Review of the current situation, including demographic profile, dwellings structure and economic/employment profile.
August 2019 Stage 2 – Identification of Landscape areas The consultants will break the rural areas down into smaller ‘landscape areas’ so that values, issues and opportunities can be considered case by case. A character statement will be prepared for each landscape area
August 2019 Community awareness campaign – Launch of photo competition To coincide with the commencement of the exhibition of the draft Local Strategic Planning Statement, information on the Rural Lands Study will be made available on our website so that the community is aware of this separate (but related) Study and its timeline. A photo competition will be launched to gain input on what is valued now in the rural areas and the hopes for the future of the rural areas.
October/November  2019 Stage 3 – Community Engagement Council will engage with the community to obtain feedback on the mapped landscape areas and character statements, including whether the mapped landscape areas and their boundaries are appropriate.
November 2019 Stage 4 – Review Community feedback will be considered in finalising the draft landscape areas and character statements, including the values, character, issues, pressures and opportunities in each landscape area.
Work on the Study will continue, including a review of the social and economic viability of villages, planning controls review and consideration of boundary interface issues.
2020 Stage 5 – Recommendations Draft Rural Lands Study report prepared, which maps and identifies the landscape areas and character statements and provides recommendations for each area. This may involve suggestions for changes to planning controls to enable new opportunities or identify areas whether further studies or investigation is required.
2020 Public Exhibition It is anticipated that Council will place the draft Rural Lands Study on public exhibition in the third quarter of 2020. The community will have the opportunity to provide feedback on the Study and its recommendations. Council will consider feedback and decide on the next steps, such as whether to endorse the Study and/or proceed with recommendations.
What is placed-based planning?2019-08-20T10:33:36+10:00

The Study will address the North District Plan and its actions to limit urban development in rural areas and undertake place-based planning to deliver targeted environmental, social and economic outcomes.

Place-based planning is a way to shape the future of our rural areas by concentrating on the look and feel of places, their form and their character, instead of focusing only on conventional categories of land use, such as suburb, zoning, etc.

The first step in a placed-based planning approach is to establish ‘landscape areas’ and a character statement for each. A landscape area is a place with shared characteristics such as landform, vegetation, land uses and other unique qualities. The community will have the opportunity to provide input on this first step during consultation in September/October of this year. 

What is a landscape area?2019-08-20T10:35:40+10:00

A landscape area is a place with shared characteristics such as landform, vegetation, land uses and other unique qualities. It is an area defined by the way a place looks and feels, and what makes it unique.

Identification of landscape areas has regard to the following characteristics:

  • The vegetation coverage and type
  • The topography of the land, geology and soil types
  • Patterns of development and lot sizes
  • Land uses (considering rural industry, agriculture, dwellings, commercial, services, shops, etc)
  • Heritage significance
  • Scientific, archaeological or environmental significance
  • Iconic views and important landmarks (such as Berowra Valley or the Hawkesbury River).

Once draft landscape areas and a character statement for each area is prepared, the community will have the opportunity to review and provide feedback on the appropriateness of the landscape area boundaries and character statements. This feedback may inform further changes to the identified areas and the character statements identified in the draft Rural Lands Study.

How can I get involved and how will I be notified?2020-04-21T09:41:39+10:00

We sought community feedback in October and November 2019 on the appropriateness of the draft landscape areas and character statements prepared as part of the preliminary stages of the Study.

A report summarising the feedback received during the engagement period has been published on this webpage. The feedback received is being considered in the preparation of the final draft Study.

It is anticipated that Council will place the draft Study on public exhibition in mid-2020. The community will be invited to provide feedback on the draft Study and its recommendations. Details of the exhibition, including opportunities to view the draft Study and make a submission, will be notified in this webpage, in newspapers and through letters to rural land owners.

Will smaller lots be allowed so I can subdivide my property?2019-08-20T10:38:43+10:00

We understand subdivision in rural areas is a key area of interest for the rural community. This has been the case for all previous studies and reviews undertaken in Council for rural lands, with arguments strongly put by those for and against a review of permissible lot sizes. Since Council announced it would be undertaking a new Rural Lands Study, we have received numerous community submissions.

This Study will provide the evidence base to inform appropriate planning responses to manage land into the future. This Study process involves place-based planning to consider the values, opportunities and constraints of each landscape area and to include recommendations for each.

Council is committed to the process of undertaking a new Rural Lands Study. Council will wait to see the recommendations of the draft Study and consider community feedback during exhibition of the Study in 2020, before making any decisions.

Any proposed changes will need to be considered with respect to infrastructure constraints, such as road and sewer capacity, environmental constraints including bushfire risk and bushland protection, as well as the North District Plan which includes actions to limit urban development in rural areas.

If, following the Study, Council does decide to proceed with lot size changes, amendments to our planning instrument (the Hornsby Local Environmental Plan) would be required. This would involve a Planning Proposal to be prepared and submitted to the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment for approval. 

Why are Seniors living developments (such as retirement villages) allowed in rural areas and what is Council doing about this?2019-08-20T10:39:45+10:00

Council’s local planning controls do not permit retirement villages (seniors living developments) on rural zoned land. However, these developments are permitted under a State Policy which overrides Council’s local planning controls. Under State Environmental Planning Policy (Housing for Seniors or People with a Disability), seniors living developments are permissible on land zoned for rural purposes so long as it adjoins land for urban purposes and meets other certain criteria outlined in the Policy.

Hornsby Council has made numerous representations to the Minister and the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment raising concerns about the proliferation of seniors housing in rural areas and has requested changes to the State Policy so that it does not apply in inappropriate locations such as rural areas. Council will continue to advocate for changes to this Policy so that Council’s efforts to plan for the future of rural areas is not undermined by State policy.

What will happen after the draft Rural Lands Study is exhibited in 2020?2019-08-20T10:40:29+10:00

The feedback received during the exhibition of the draft Rural Lands Study in 2020 will help inform Council’s future planning response and strategy for rural lands. Council will consider the recommendations of the Study and the matters raised in community submissions to determine the next steps. This may include Council endorsing the Study and proceeding to implement the recommendations of the Study (such as changes to planning controls) or consider alternative options.

How long does it take to change planning controls?2019-08-20T10:41:06+10:00

If, following the Study, Council does decide to proceed with amendments to planning controls, this requires further consultation with the community and (for amendments to our Local Environmental Plan) requires approval from the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.

The time frame for the process for amendments to a Local Environmental Plan is not certain, however generally we would expect the process to take a minimum of two years for any changes to planning controls to be implemented.

Will Council report back to the community on feedback received during consultation?2020-04-21T09:42:37+10:00

Yes. A report summarising the feedback received during the engagement period in October / November 2019  is available on this webpage.

It is anticipated that Council will place the draft Rural Lands Study on public exhibition in mid-2020. A report will then be prepared for consideration at a Council meeting that summarises the community feedback received during the exhibition period. People who make a submission will be notified of the date of the Council meeting and where to view the report on Council’s website.