NSW Farm Stay Accommodations FAQ

February 12, 2024

The NSW Government has made it easier for farmers to use their land for tourism activities, such as farm experiences, cellar doors and farm stays. As a farmer, you can diversify and add value to your agricultural business, while maintaining primary
production as the principal use of your land. The FAQ hared here is sourced directly from the NSW Planning Website.

NSW Department of Planning and Environment - Frequently asked questions

What are the planning rules for agritourism?
There are land uses for on-farm activities that can be carried out as exempt or complying development, or under a development application. The land uses are:

  1. Farm gate premises – where visitors interact with produce from the farm, such as fruit picking, sales, tastings, workshops and cafes.
  2. Farm experience premises – where visitors can experience life on a farm including tours, horse riding, weddings, functions and retreats.
  3. Farm stay accommodation – where visitors can stay in buildings or moveable dwellings, including tents and caravans, on a farm.

You can read the full definitions in the Standard Instrument – Principal Local Environmental Plan 2006 and they are replicated in all Standard Instrument LEPs.

These land uses can only be undertaken on a commercial farm and must be ancillary (secondary) to the farm. A commercial farm means a farm on which agriculture is undertaken that is on land categorised as farmland under the Local Government Act 1993 by the local council, or that is a primary production business under the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 (Cth). It also includes a business that was a primary production business and has temporarily ceased to be a primary
production business because of a natural disaster, including a drought, flood or bush fire.

What are farm gate premises?
Farm gate premises are a way for landowners to showcase the agricultural produce of the land. This may include setting up a building or place to sell agricultural products such as a small restaurant or café, pick-your-own produce or running tastings and workshops. Other activities that meet the definition for farm gate premises can also be undertaken.

What are farm experience premises?
Farm experience premises allow a farmer to provide small scale and low impact tourist and recreational activities and events on their farm to visitors to experience the farm and farm life. They can include farm tours, school visits, retreats, weddings, conferences, horse riding and farm field days. Other activities that meet the definition for farm experience premises can also be undertaken.

What is farm stay accommodation?
Farm stay accommodation includes erecting tents and having caravans or campervans on your land, changing the use of residential accommodation to farm stay accommodation, erecting a building or modifying an existing building to provide temporary accommodation to paying guests of the farm.

How does the policy help me?
The agritourism land uses allow innovative agritourism activities on farms. Rather than having to get a development application, landowners can set up agritourism businesses with either fast-tracked approval (through complying development) or no planning or building approval (through exempt development) if they meet the requirements set out in the policy.

  • Exempt development is minor, low-impact development that can be undertaken without planning or building approval if the work meets specified development standards and general requirements.
  • Complying development is a combined planning and construction approval for straightforward development that can be determined through a fast-track assessment by the council or a registered certifier. Complying development must also meet specified development standards and general requirements.

If your development cannot meet the general requirements or development standards for exempt or complying development, you will need to lodge a development application with your council. Councilis the best source for advice on whether you can lodge a development application and what information you need to provide. General information about development applications is also available at planningportal.nsw.gov.au.

What matters do I need to consider in my council area?

Land requirements
Farm stay accommodation, farm experience premises, farm gate premises and roadside stalls can be carried out as exempt or complying development in these zones in the council’s LEP:

  • RU1 (Primary Production)
  • RU2 (Rural Landscape)
  • RU4 (Primary Production Small Lots).

For exempt development, in addition to these zones, farm stay accommodation, farm experience premises and farm gate premises can be carried out in other zones where development for ‘agritourism’, ‘extensive agriculture’, ‘intensive livestock agriculture’ or ‘intensive plant agriculture’ is permitted with consent or without consent under the council’s LEP.

To carry out complying development, the land use – for example, farm gate premises – must also be permissible with consent in the zone. This permissibility is set out in the council’s LEP.

Permissibility is also important for development applications. Farm experience premises and farm gate premises are permissible with consent in RU1, RU2 and RU4 zones under each Standard Instrument LEP. They are also permissible with consent in other zones where ‘agriculture’, ‘agritourism’ or the specific land use, ‘farm experience premises’ or ‘farm gate premises’, is permitted with consent, unless the use is specifically prohibited in the zone. Farm stayaccommodation is permitted with consent where ‘tourist and visitor accommodation’ or ‘farm stay accommodation’ is permitted with consent, unless the use is specifically prohibited in the zone.

Certain sensitive land is excluded from complying and exempt development, such as critical habitat, floodway areas, special areas in certain drinking water catchments and significantly contaminated land.

Development Standards

The development standards for exempt and complying development include the maximum number of guests or visitors, operating hours, minimum setbacks to neighbours and waterways, the maximum size and number of buildings, and requirements for waste management, access to the property and car parking. The development standards for development applications are set out in the council’s LEP and development control plan (DCP).

Other requirements
To undertake any building work for agritourism, the work must be constructed in accordance with the Building Code of Australia. You may also need to meet requirements under other legislation that are not related to the planning rules. For example, to serve food at an event you may have obligations under the NSW Food Act 2003.

I have a hobby farm. Do the changes apply to me?
No. The land use terms for farm stay accommodation, farm experience premises and farm gate premises only apply where the main use of the land is the production of agricultural goods for commercial purposes. A key objective of the agritourism policy is to ensure primary production remains the principal use of
farmland and the policy has been developed to achieve that objective. This includes by allowing agritourism only on a commercial farm on which agriculture is undertaken.

How do I demonstrate I have a commercial farm?
A farmer can demonstrate they have a commercial farm in one of two ways. They can demonstrate their farm has been categorised as farmland by the council under the Local Government Act 1993 or that they have a primary production business as defined under the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 (Cth). You can check your council annual rate notice to find out the categorisation of your land under the Local Government Act or the council can confirm the categorisation.

Could I set up multiple agritourism activities on my property?
Yes. You could set up multiple activities on your property provided each activity has the necessary planning approval in place (or in the case of exempt development, meets all the required development standards and general requirements). The agritourism land uses are intended to complement one another. For example, you could have people staying at your property in farm stay accommodation and also allow visitors to buy produce from farm gate premises.

Can I earn more income from my agritourism proposal than from my agricultural business?
The agritourism land uses have been designed to complement agricultural production rather than detract from it. It is important to retain agricultural uses of farmland now and into the future. While you could earn more income from your agritourism business than your primary production business, particularly during periods of drought or other temporary reasons outside your control, you must continue to have a commercial farm to run your agritourism business and the agritourism activities must be ancillary (secondary) to the farm.

Do I need approval to use my rural workers’ dwelling for farm stay accommodation?
If a rural workers’ dwelling on your land is an approved development, you can change the use to farm stay accommodation without further planning or building approval (exempt development). You must not contravene any of the conditions of the development consent that applies to the land. Once the farm stay accommodation is no longer needed – for example at the end of school holidays – you can change the use of the building back to a rural workers’ dwelling as exempt development. You will need to comply with the requirements of the development consent that was issued for the rural workers’ dwelling. This recognises agriculture can be seasonal and allows farmers flexibility in using existing buildings on their land.

Can manufactured homes or relocatable homes be used or installed for farm stay accommodation?
Certain development can be undertaken in a manufactured home under exempt and complying development. An existing manufactured home on a farm can be converted to farm stay accommodation as exempt development. Alterations and additions to an existing manufacturedhome can be undertaken as complying development. Standards apply to each type of development. Manufactured home is defined to mean ‘a self-contained dwelling (that is, a dwelling that includes
at least one kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and living area and that also includes toilet and laundry facilities), being a dwelling—
(a) that comprises one or more major sections, and
(b) that is not a motor vehicle, trailer or other registrable vehicle within the meaning of the Road Transport Act 2013,
and includes any associated structures that form part of the dwelling.’

To install a manufactured home or relocatable home on a farm, the landowner would need to seek the council’s approval under the Local Government Act 1993 and may need to lodge a development application with the council if the land use requires development consent under the local environmental plan.

Do I need to register farm stay accommodation on the Short-Term Rental Accommodation Register?
No. Farm stay accommodation is not required to be registered on the Short-Term Rental Accommodation (STRA) register, however any building used for farm stay accommodation must comply with the relevant requirements of the Fire Safety Standard for STRA.

What is the Agritourism and Farm Stay Accommodation Exempt and Complying Development Map?
The Agritourism and Farm Stay Accommodation Exempt and Complying Development Map sets out areas where the agritourism provisions under exempt and complying development do not apply. The map currently only identifies certain Special Areas in the Hunter region and the provisions therefore
do not apply to these areas. The map is available on the NSW Planning Portal.

Side view shot relaxed young woman with backpack standing by the stream. Female hiking by the creek.
In Katoomba, Blue Mountains National Park, NSW, Australia, Gordon Creeks forms the natural Pool of Siloam waterfall.

Partnering with Cubitt's for Planning, Design, and DA Work

Once you've explored the possibilities and gathered essential information, engaging a professional team can significantly simplify the planning, design, and DA processes.

Cubitt's, with its wealth of experience, can collaborate with you to bring your vision to life. From concept plans to complying development or if needed -  DA submission, our expertise can navigate the intricacies of farm-stay accommodation, turning your extra income stream into a reality.

Building your farm stay accommodation business requires careful planning, adherence to zoning regulations, and effective communication with the local Council. By conducting thorough research, initiating early conversations, and collaborating with experienced professionals like Cubitt's, you can transform your dream into a flourishing business venture. The tranquillity of rural NSW awaits, and with the right approach, your accommodation business can become a welcoming haven for travellers seeking a taste of the countryside.

Enquire Now. Your Dream Home is closer than you think!

Interested in finding out how simple your building project could be? Get in touch for a no-obligation site assessment for your New Build, Granny Flat or Home Extension today.

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