THE owner of a rural property straddling Orange and Cabonne councils has been forced to battle bureaucratic red tape in an attempt to build a three-bedroom home, and almost 18 months later he is still waiting to having the development okayed.
Orchardist Bob Grant lodged a development application (DA) with Orange City Council to build a brick and weatherboard home on his Canobolas Road property in July 2011.
He hoped to build the house on the Orange side, backing on to Wallace Lane, to avoid the more productive fruit-growing section on the Cabonne side.
But because the 12.3-hectare area is not used to grow fruit or grapevines, and falls short of the 16-hectare minimum for dwellings on rural land, it cannot be approved by the Department of Planning and Infrastructure.
The decision comes despite the 21.1 hectare Cabonne section of his land being filled with fruit trees.
After Orange City Council initially signed off on the DA, Mr Grant was told it had been knocked back by the department in November.
“I feel disappointed because I can understand Orange City Council needs to reject the matter, because it has to go to an independent arbitrator, but the NSW government shouldn’t consider council boundaries they should consider the whole area,” he said.
“It’s an anomaly in the system and the state government needs to change it.”
Currently Mr Grant lives on a converted shed on the Cabonne section of the property, which the planning department considers an illegal dwelling, further complicating the matter.
He has told Cabonne he will decommission the shed when the new home is built, but in a letter to Orange City Council the regional director said the department was concerned the removal of the shed was a civil matter with no effect on planning decision making.
Mr Grant said he chose the Orange side of his property because the grazing land was not used for the orchard he had operated since 1980.
If he is forced to build on the Cabonne land 50 metres away he will lose fruit trees and forgo the money he has spent on soil assessments for the Orange site.
Orange councillors have spoken out in support of the development and asked for council staff to write a letter to the department asking them to reconsider.
A Department of Planning and Infrastructure spokesperson said the decision was being reviewed but said they became involved because the development proposed a “significant variation to rural land subdivision standards”.
“There was the potential for noise and amenity conflict between future owners of the proposed lifestyle property and adjoining farming land,” the spokesperson said.
“This could have undermined the primary purpose of the area as a place for agricultural production.”
Although the 21 hectares of the property within Cabonne does contain horticultural activities, the converted shed onsite means the land is not considered vacant, the spokesman said.
“It should also be noted that under changes to the Orange LEP since the lodgment of this application, some 100 hectares will be needed for a dwelling on rural land,” the spokesperson said.
Mr Grant said he had heard of a similar situation arising in Evans Shire Council before it was amalgamated with Bathurst and the applicant was forced to go the expense of having the boundaries adjusted, something he hopes to avoid.
Orange City Council development services director David Waddell said problems for properties overlapping Cabonne and Orange had never occurred during his time at the council.