VCAT overrules free range farm decision

A free range chicken farm in Rosedale can go ahead after a ruling from the Victorian Civil Administrative Tribunal.

VCAT overturned a Wellington Shire council decision to refuse a permit to build a house on the six hectare site in Huffers Lane, Rosedale after finding a dwelling was needed and would not compromise the future use of the land.

Max O’Doherty and his wife use the land for grazing cattle and plan to establish an egg laying production with up to 350 free range hens.

Mr O’Doherty submitted to VCAT they had to live on site as they needed to collect the eggs twice a day and otherwise manage the farm.

The land has been set up in a “wagon wheel” layout where the cattle are moved in small sections of the paddock around a circular trough to allow for maximum grass growth.

The free range chickens would follow the cattle around the circle, breaking up the cow pats and soil and would be kept in a movable coop at night.

Council refused the original planning permit application, citing concerns the proposed dwelling was inconsistent with state and local planning policies, the purposes of the farming zone and the future zoning of the land.

Tribunal member Katherine Paterson said she was satisfied a dwelling was legitimately needed for the agricultural production on the land.

“The land is being worked productively, with the landowners making good use of the limited amount of land available to them for agricultural purposes,” she said in her report.

“The presence of the owners on site will enable the establishment of the egg laying enterprise which will further increase the productive capacity of the land.”

Ms Paterson also said there was limited demand for industrial land and it was “highly unlikely that there will be a need to rezone land for further industrial purposes with[in] Rosedale for at least 15 years.” Construction of the house must start within two years and be completed within four years.