Boost For Homeowners In Rural Areas

Homeowners in rural areas in the Hills district will have more clarity and fairness surrounding the size of secondary dwellings.

The Hills Shire Council said it has moved to initiate a planning proposal to amend The Hills LEP to include a provision to increase the size of secondary dwellings in rural areas from a maximum of 60 sq m to 110 sq m or 20 per cent of the total floor area of the principal dwelling, whichever is greater.

The proposed amendment applies to those located in rural zoned land where secondary dwellings are already permitted with consent, including in the RU1 Primary Production, RU2 Rural Landscape and RU6 Transition zones.

Annangrove resident and long-time campaigner to increase the size of secondary dwellings in rural zones, Rocco Polistina, is delighted.

“It’s going to help families and their kids and, down the track, give people a second income,” Mr Polistina said. “It’s great to think that the council is looking long-term at how we can continue to live on rural land and support it.”

Mayor Dr Michelle Byrne said the proposed amendments would improve the outcomes of secondary dwellings in rural zones and provide the community with a greater mix of housing choices.

“Currently, the ruling for secondary dwellings in our rural areas means someone with a very large primary dwelling can build a large secondary dwelling, while those who have a smaller primary dwelling end up being limited to 60 sq m, which is not entirely fair,” Mayor Byrne said.

“This new clause will mean a more reasonable and equitable outcome that responds to the demand for a greater diversity of housing choices in our rural areas.

“This gives our residents the peace of mind and confidence that they can keep their family, such as their children, close.”

Councillor Robyn Preston said she has long advocated for this change, pointing out rural land owners will have more choices to remain on their land, especially in their senior years.

“Increasing the secondary dwelling size to 110m² of liveable area will permit a two-bedroom home to be built in a rural setting,” she said.

“Empty nesters can downsize, remain on their property and receive a passive income if they rent out the original home or they can provide an affordable smaller dwelling for their children or a young family.

“I anticipate this new change will be formalised by the end of this year.”