It is critical changes are made to the planning system to support the retention and growth of agriculture in Victoria. Repeated failures to address or consider these matters, in response to consultation or in preparation of documents such as this, reinforces industry belief that there is an urban bias in the planning system that sees farming land as vacant or awaiting an urban use, or providing amenity and ecosystem services for towns.
Whilst the VFF accepts that farming operates in a regulated space, it is vital that planning and environmental regulations, which are generally designed for urban scenarios, do not have a perverse or adverse outcome in relation to facilitating the ongoing and productive use of land for agriculture.
VFF also recognises that the planning system is a land use and development system – not a land management system. Land management outcomes must have a nexus to a land use change or a clear development change. Where existing beneficial land use is expected to change to achieve a management outcome, other legislation that must compensate for the change is appropriate. For too long, ministerial intervention has been used to alter the planning system to avoid regulatory impact statements and compensation.
The terms of reference for this inquiry that the VFF are interested in and will submit on are:
1. The objectives of planning in Victoria
2. The increasing urban focus of the planning system
3. Limited regional housing stock
4. Environmental sustainability and vegetation protection
5. How the planning system can recognize and grow agriculture as a key sustainable economic development driver for the Victorian economy
6. Delivering certainty and fairness in planning decisions for communities
7. Other relevant items
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