Dwellings on <40ha farming zone properties

Discussion in 'Designing, building, making and powering your life' started by emilyjane, Mar 29, 2012.

  1. emilyjane

    emilyjane Junior Member

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    Well after talking to the council it seems that any issues about driveways and vegetable gardens are moot because the planning permit expired in Nov last year!

    Right now I'm mightily p***ed off because the whole reason we were interested in this property was because we were told it had the planning permit for a dwelling (aside from anything else this was going to make securing finance for a farming zoned property much easier). The ad on realestate.com.au said "Building approval for proposed residence", which, to me, implies an active planning permit. I was then given assurances by the estate agent when I called about the property that there was a permit for a house on the property. If we'd been told the truth from the beginning we wouldn't have wasted time going to view the property (6 hour round trip) and certainly wouldn't have wasted money on solicitor's fees.

    It's disappointing that the property wasn't what we'd hoped, but we were prepared for there to be a catch somewhere. What's really disappointing is dealing with people who think it's ok to either deceive intentionally or not do their job properly (the estate agent may have just taken the owner's word that there was a current planning permit, but this still amounts to incompetence as far as I'm concerned).

    The moral of the story: don't bother doing anything until you've thoroughly investigated the section 32! (And certainly don't take an estate agent's word for anything).

    So, after a little detour to Consumer Affairs, we'll go back to the adventure of trying to figure out how to buy/build a house on a small farming zoned property...
     
  2. gardenlen

    gardenlen Group for banned users

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    g'day emily,

    up here we have a due diligence clause this allows for outs of contracts under a very wide list of things, saves having to individually list all you want on the contract to protect your interests from especially real estate talk, never to be trusted those people

    so you needed to have signed the contract at least subject planning approvals. even here our purchase was subject to a satisfactory soil test and being able to use a septic system, we went asked for 6 weeks to unconditional with an option for more time. some people go for 8 gives time for all searches to be done properly

    a good solicitor works wonders

    len
     
  3. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    G'day Emily

    At least you had prior knowledge of the most oft-used maxim in statutory planning: Caveat emptor, many do not.

    Put it down to experience (albeit a costly one), and keep searching. At the same time (if you have the time and energy to continue), do pursue recourse via Consumer Affairs because the only way this practice will stop is if people like you make it happen!

    Another tip: Many (but not all) vendors often attach the disclaimer STCA at the end of advertisements that describe land in terms of 'development potential'. STCA is the acronym for 'Subject to Council Approval', and it really does mean what it states. As such, always consult your friendly local government planner under these circumstances.

    If there is anything further I can help you with, you know how to get in touch.

    Cheerio, Markos.
     
  4. emilyjane

    emilyjane Junior Member

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    I have already emailed Consumer Affairs, definitely not letting that nonsense fly!

    So far this forum has been the single most useful resource for getting help with this process - I really appreciate how generous people have been with their time and information. At least any mistakes we may will hopefully save others in a similar position some time and expense!

    Is it possible to get a planning permit before purchasing a property - is that what you're talking about, Len? Specifically, is that possible in Victoria? There are other FZ properties we've seen that would suit our needs so if there was a way of getting a planning permit for a dwelling before buying that seems to be our best option at the moment, especially as it will make getting a loan a lot easier.
     
  5. petal

    petal Junior Member

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    Hi Emily,
    I believe Len has a possible way forward for you when he says "...you needed to have signed the contract at least subject planning approvals.". With agreement of the vendor you can have special conditions added to the contract. A very common one is subject to finance, (make sure it lists the banks you want to get finance with, as you can always get finance from somewhere, but not alway with reasonable terms). It sounds like you would also be interested in one being subject to a planning permit for a X bedroom dwelling being granted. This is not uncommon in Victoria. Talk to you intended conveyancer, and, I hate to say it, the real estate agents about this.

    I have been told that to get a planning permit on small area FZ land you need to convince the council you will have a farming business that needs close attention, hence a house located near by. There are plenty of small ag enterprises that use a small amount of land. Of cause it depends on the climate, soil, water availability of the block you are looking at, but things such as berry growing, vegi's, and herbs don't need much land, but do need lots of attention. Architects and designers local to the area you are looking would have experience with such planning permits and the particular council.

    All the best in the land search. It may take some time, but you will find the right land, and you will know it is right as a result of knowledge you are acquiring on the journey.

    Cheers,
    Petal
     
  6. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    G'day Emily

    Yes, not only is it possible, in my professional capacity I would advise (if the purchase does not come with a current planning permit that suits your exact proposed land use and/or development objective/s) that it should be a mandatory requirement. Many a property has been purchased, often in haste, only for the new owner/s to find that they are not permitted to carry out said objective/s.

    However, having said the above, as an applicant if you are not the owner of said property, you must inform the owner of your intent to apply.

    More information about obtaining a planning permit in Victoria (including an example application form) can be found at the Department of Planning and Development (DPCD) website.

    Cheerio, Markos.
     
  7. emilyjane

    emilyjane Junior Member

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    Thanks very much, Petal. Yep it's a steep learning curve but you're correct, slowing down a bit and making sure we're well-informed will hopefully lead us to the place that's right for us.

    Markos, you're a gem. Looks like I've got a bit of homework to do! When we got the S(32) I did realise that that planning permit probably only applied to the building specified in it, and after clearing up the major issues (next time permit expiry date will be first on my list!) I was going to see how flexible councils tend to be with that stuff - you've just clarified that. So after all that we probably would have had to submit a new planning permit anyway haha.

    Oh and I got a very apologetic email from that estate agent this morning after I sent him a piece of my mind. He cried ignorant about the expiry date of the planning permit.
     
  8. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    G'day Emily

    In relation to the former: If you were to purchase a property with an existing planning permit, and you did decide to deviate slightly (Councils tend to vary widely on their interpretation of this term) from the original plans attached to the permit, then you could apply to amend the permit. The DPCD website has all the guff on that. However, if you were to propose substantial change to the original plans, then you would most likely have to submit a new application, regardless of the expiry status of the existing permit. Once again, Councils vary in this regard, and the only way to be 100% certain is to purchase the property with an exact, current Planning permit (development consent) in place. Or, do what many property developers/speculators do, and gamble that you will (eventually) get a permit.

    Concerning the latter: Apologies are nice, compensation for your lost time and money would be nicer ;).

    Cheerio, and good luck with your continued search, Markos.
     
  9. emilyjane

    emilyjane Junior Member

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    Haha agreed.

    Ok, I've gone back to the drawing board and before anything else happens I need to get the basic order of events sorted out in my head (I probably should have done this before, live and learn). This is what I came up with, if anyone sees any flaws or has suggestions for a better plan of attack please let me know!

    1. Find land that looks suitable
    2. Obtain copy of S(32), check details with council/solicitor (beware of expiry dates!)
    3. Inspect land
    4. Get pre-approval from bank for finance
    5. Talk to council planner (preferably in a face to face meeting) re likelihood of planning permit, requirements, availability of pre-lodgement certification process
    6. Talk to a suitable consultant in the area to get advice on planning permit (Markos, is this the sort of thing your consulting service provides?)
    7. Talk to solicitor and put in a conditional offer subject to planning permit, finance etc (get owner's consent to put in planning permit at this stage)
    8. Sign contract of sale after solicitor has given it the ok
    9. Get loan approved
    10. Submit and hopefully get planning permit
    11. Pay for land and start growing sh**loads of vegetables! And maybe get some chickens and a milking cow.
     
  10. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    G'day Emily

    Excellent summary, a few suggested additions:

    1a: 'Suitable' to your present/future wants/needs. Don't forget to scope out (have a chat with) neighbours and members of the wider community (bioregion), as a 'good' permaculture design does not end at the site boundary.

    2a: Ensure that the Sec 32 contains a current (issued in the previous 30-days, or less) copy of title, and a current planning certificate, as both can tend to be 'recycled' from earlier, failed attempts by the vendor to sell.

    6a: Yes

    11a: Start enjoying the good life by inviting the neighbours over for a drink, or three :D

    Cheerio, Markos
     
  11. emilyjane

    emilyjane Junior Member

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    Woohoo! Finally feel like I have a bit of a handle on this now, it's starting to make a bit of sense. Thanks heaps to everyone for their input. I even called an estate agent about a property that looks alright and asked about zoning and whatnot and for a copy of the section 32 and it's just possible that I sounded like I knew what I was doing! I figure I'll check out several properties like this, then do one trip over that way to look at any of the ones that pass the S(32) test and keep whittling down the list from there.

    Markos, consider yourself hired - Central Vic seems to be the most likely place for us to find a place that meets our needs and is affordable, so a planner with local knowledge AND a PDC would be perfect. We'll email when we're at the planning stage.
     
  12. Curramore1

    Curramore1 Junior Member

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    Love, life-force, aspect, soil, water and neighbours. amen.
     
  13. emilyjane

    emilyjane Junior Member

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    Indeed!

    After lots more labourious searching on real estate websites we've found some land that we like, in a better location than the last one we looked at, that's actually zoned rural living.

    From what I can tell reading the Schedule to the RLZ for the appropriate area, properties under 8 hectares still need a planning permit for a dwelling. So as far as I can, if the council is handing out planning permits for small FZ properties in the area there isn't any real advantage to having a RLZ property under 8 hectares, you still have to go through pretty much the same process. Or is there a significant difference? I ask because the estate agent said over the phone that it was FZ, then when he looked at the S(32) he realised it was RLZ and jacked the price up by 10 grand!
     
  14. emilyjane

    emilyjane Junior Member

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    An update:

    We investigated the RLZ property mentioned above, got some expert advice on its S(32) - from the solicitor and ecodharmamark - and put in a offer (subject to finance and approval of a planning permit, we need a planning permit for a dwelling because it's under 8Ha). Now we're waiting for the contract of sale to be drawn up...

    One very important thing we weren't aware of: a planning permit does not guarantee a building permit! This didn't even occur to us (as it doesn't make much sense to give out a planning permit and then deny a building permit based on that if it complies with all the millions of council regulations), but is obviously an eventuality that should be taken into consideration.

    We decided that if the planning permit is granted and the sale goes through, we are willing to take our chances on getting a building permit and would just use the land for a holiday retreat - for the price that would still be a good deal and it would just mean changing our plans with regard to living arrangements.

    Basically, we will have this issue with any property we buy within our price range so we're willing to gamble a bit and could live with the worst case scenario. The shire the property is in seem to be working hard to get new residents in so that will hopefully work in our favour.

    The next step (once the contract of sale has been finalised and agreed upon) is to get to work on the planning permit. Based on Mark's and the solicitor's advice a 120 day settlement should be enough to sort out finance and a planning permit, and is probably the maximum most vendor's would accept.

    Buying a small bit of land to live on is apparently quite a complex and time consuming process! It's quite overwhelming if, like us, you have no experience in this sort of thing and we're finding that getting expert advice has made it far less of a nightmare than it could have been. Thanks to Mark for all his help with our planning questions so far, this combined with legal advice has been invaluable.
     
  15. emilyjane

    emilyjane Junior Member

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    Another update:

    So this is turning into a very long and arduous process. For whatever reason it took about 2 months for our solicitor to get the contract of sale and then half the details were wrong so we're waiting on amendments to be agreed upon.

    We met with Mark on the property and he was very helpful in taking us through the basic layout for a planning permit. He gave us the contact details for an engineer in the area who can draw up the plans and prepare thing like bushfire management statement.

    Another recommendation made by both Mark and the solicitor is that we make sure the land we looked at is actually the land we're buying, and for this we need a boundary survey. We're trying to see if the vendor can provide one, if not we'll get one done. This is another expense, but definitely worthwhile and we're very much of the opinion that it's better to be safe than sorry with this stuff.

    Mark also informed us that there are proposed changes to the RLZ, including minimum size for building a dwelling being reduced from 8Ha to 2Ha. The property we want to buy is around 3Ha, so it may make our lives a bit easier in terms of building a dwelling but due to the Bushfire Management Overlay we'd still need a permit for a dwelling. Proposed changes can be found here: https://www.dpcd.vic.gov.au/planning/theplanningsystem/improving-the-system/new-zones-for-victoria/new-and-improved-rural-zones/rural-living-zone

    After much thinking and talking it through, Rohan and I have decided that we would still want to buy the property even if we can't build a house on it, we still believe it's a worthwhile investment even if it is just a beautiful place for us, friends and family to camp on a regular basis. So, this takes the pressure off a bit in terms of getting a planning permit in order for the sale to be finalised. The one good thing about it taking so bloody long for this contract to be sorted is that it has given us plenty of time to breathe and think about exactly what we want, and to ask plenty of questions to make sure we know exactly what we're getting into.
     
  16. ShadowWalker

    ShadowWalker Junior Member

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    Thank you for starting this thread Emily. My boyfriend and I are looking to purchase property in Australia or Tasmania in the near future and seeing the process as you've gone through it will be a huge help to us.

    It's hard to believe that so much is involved in trying to "live the simple life" in a complex civilisation.

    I agree with Grahame and would love to find a like-minded group of people willing to work together to create something "more".
     
  17. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    G'day ShadowWalker

    A good place to start looking might be here. Let us know if we can help with anything else.

    Cheerio, Markos
     
  18. emilyjane

    emilyjane Junior Member

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    Well it's been a while but the settlement finally went through a couple of weeks ago so we have our 7 acre block and we're in love with it.

    Now the process of planning exactly what we want to do and getting the appropriate permits begins. The boundary survey releaved that the fence between us and our one neighbour is quite a way off (further into our property than it should be) so, with the help of some sage advice from ecodharmamark we'll approach the neighbour and see if we can get that sorted.

    Exciting times ahead!
     
  19. ShadowWalker

    ShadowWalker Junior Member

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    Congrats emilyjane and best of luck with your new neighnbour. :)
     
  20. emilyjane

    emilyjane Junior Member

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    Thanks ShadowWalker!

    If you're planning to go through a similar process over here I would highly recommend getting in touch with ecodharmamark if you have any planning questions - he's been extremely helpful. If you are looking for cheap land Tasmania has some good stuff I think and we found our block just outside of Bendigo. Loddon Shire has a few places that have cheap land and they seem to be willing to give out permits for small farming zoned properties so is definitely worth looking at. I'll keep this thread going to keep you updated on the planning process.
     

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