Pick-your-own farms exempt from 100 visitor cap
The Minns Government will amend the agritourism policy to make sure pick-your-own-fruit farm operations are allowed to operate with more than 100 visitors at a time without the need for planning approval.
Planning and Public Spaces Minister Paul Scully said the government will work with councils and agritourism operators to find the right balance.
“This policy clearly needed another look – until now it’s been one rule for existing agritourism businesses and another for new pick-your-own-fruit farm operations,” Mr Scully said.
“The visitor caps were an unfair restriction on pick-your-own activities that were operating before the policy began – some cater for up to 1500 visitors a day, especially on weekends and at harvest time.
“By removing the visitor cap for all businesses, it will give more farmers greater opportunities to sell fresh produce direct to the public,” he said.
The agritourism policy was introduced on 1 December 2022 with the aim to make it easier for farmers to make secondary use of their land for agritourism.
Proposed changes were exhibited in early 2021 and further engagement with councils and industry informed the final policy.
“It’s important we strike a balance for growing farm businesses and local communities – more farm visitors can mean more traffic, parking issues and the need for increased basic amenities such as bathrooms.
“Any future development for farm gate premises needs to be low impact and monitored to manage unsustainable traffic movement and appropriate infrastructure,” he said.
The reforms provide clear planning definitions for different types of agritourism including farm gate premises, farm experience premises and farm stay accommodation.
The policy includes requirements for exempt and complying agritourism development to meet a range of standards that make sure it is low impact and small-scale. While larger agritourism operations will be able to get planning approval from the local council to ensure impacts are managed.
It also makes it easier for landowners to rebuild farm buildings destroyed by natural disasters without planning approval to help future-proof their farms.
The agritourism policy will be reviewed after a year of operation to make sure that the exemption is not leading to unintended consequences for locals.
For more information visit the NSW Planning website.