14 July 2016 Rural Lands Strategy Consultation Outcomes on Exhibition

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14 July 2016 Rural Lands Strategy Consultation Outcomes on Exhibition

The first phase in the development of a Rural Lands Strategy for Coffs Harbour is to go on exhibition for wider community input on Wednesday, July 20, 2016.

The draft Rural Lands Strategy Issues and Options Discussion Paper was developed after extensive consultation with rural residents and industry stakeholders.

“We started from a blank sheet as we wanted to hear grassroots opinion first,” said Sharon Smith, Council’s Section Leader Local Planning. “The workshops we held in Coramba, Woolgoolga and Bonville consisted of essentially asking people to brainstorm. They were very productive and the result is the current draft Rural Lands Strategy Issues and Options Discussion Paper which we now want the wider community to look at and comment on.”

Rural land in the Coffs Harbour area is mainly used for farming, rural industries, tourism, rural housing and environmental protection. In recent decades, continual pressure to change land uses and develop rural land has seen a significant shift in the way it’s used, which has the potential to lead to conflict and uncertainty.

The key issues identified by the community following the initial consultation and contained in the draft Issues and Options Discussion Paper are:

  • To ensure a productive and economically sustainable long-term future for rural lands. This could include mechanisms for planning controls and economic development strategies, food security and support for local food production, supporting innovative and diverse farming enterprises, encouragement for rural-based tourism as an option for primary producers and employment issues and opportunities.
  • To address the changing character of our rural lands in terms of social and cultural change - such as ensuring planning provisions can provide for an ageing rural population and pressure for land use changes.
  • To help rural production by, for example, providing clear and transparent policies and strategies, a robust and easily understood regulatory framework and improved community engagement.
  • To recognise and manage the opportunities and challenges presented by the environmental values of the area. 

The draft Paper says it is important to undertake a broad-scale overall analysis of whether the existing planning controls for rural lands are achieving their original intended purpose and whether updates are necessary to take into account issues such as the protection and conservation of areas of environmental significance, climate change, protection and conservation of natural resources and promotion of sustainable resource use, protection of scenic landscapes and resolution of land use conflicts.

The draft Rural Lands Strategy Issues and Options Discussion Paper will go on public exhibition from July 20 until August 19, 2016. Copies can be viewed via Council’s website at www.coffsharbour.nsw.gov.au/onexhibition at local libraries and at Council’s Main Administration Building.

Phase Two of the preparation of the Rural Lands Strategy – the development of a draft strategy - is scheduled to begin in late 2017/early 2018. ​