-----In 2004 we bought a falling-down house and 30 acres. This blog documents our progress-----

Saturday, December 02, 2006

planning permit for walled garden

One of the concerns flagged by Dad in relation to the vegetable garden wall is that he feared we needed a planning permit for it. But we didn't understand why that would be the case in our area, as there's no neighbours to overshadow or views to obstruct.

Anyway, we agreed to disagree until Dave and I could do some research ourselves. Here's what we discovered.

Since we initially bought the property, it seems to have been slightly re-zoned. According to the map here, we're now in a Farming zone (code FZ), which is part of the Rural category. A PDF of the requirements for this zone can be downloaded here.

This says we don't need a permit for Agriculture, which in my opinion clearly encompasses a vegetable garden ... which we can't have without building a wall to keep out the sheep and kangaroos. Thus, building a wall to enable us to create a vegetable garden shouldn't require a permit. We figured we'd better doublecheck this logic though, so Dave called Norm at the local planning department.

Norm said we wouldn't normally need a permit, but we might in this instance only because the area being enclosed is much bigger than typical for a garden in the Amherst/Maryborough area. Norm said he knew exactly the kind of thing we meant though, and said there are loads of them in the Western District (which makes sense as that's where a lot of the grander properties were built years ago). He didn't seem to think there'd be a problem getting approval for the wall even if we did need a permit though. What we needed to do was to send him a few sketches... indicating where on the property it is, what it will look like roughly, etc.

Below is what we sent and Norm's brief reply, which we have interpreted as meaning that it's OK to go ahead, provided we abide by building regulations. Which is a big relief as it means there's at least one project we can work on while we're overseas and only able to make sporadic visits.

Hello Norm,
I'm writing to follow up on our telephone conversation of last week,regarding whether or not a planning permit would be required for awalled garden on our 30 acre property.

Attached are:
--A site plan showing existing buildings/features and also 'proposedbuildings' (what we plan to build once we return from UK in 5+ years)
plan of garden1

--A sketch of the garden
plan of garden 2

The proposed garden is 25m x 40 m, surrounded by a wall of approx 2min height. We're intending for the wall to have old fashioned redbrick columns, but we are still undecided at what will fill in the space between the columns. We are investigating the options of:
- Mud brick/cob wall made in part with clays from the property.
- Wood
- Hebel sheeting

My wife's brother is a bricklayer by trade, and he has offered to build the required foundations and lay the bricks for the columns whenhe has spare time over the upcoming holidays. We intend to continue to build and complete the rest of the wall, with volunteer help from family and friends, on our holiday trips back to Australia. These are usually for 3-4 weeks every 18 months or so.

We decided to make it a walled garden, with a solid wall, in order to:
- Protect from sheep and wild life (kangaroos etc)
- Protect from frosts and wind
- Provide a growing support for espaliered fruit trees and other vines
- Because my wife really likes the style of old fashioned walled gardens

Inside the garden we are thinking about having small sheds at two of the corners of the walls, one for tools, one for growing seedlings/potting etc, although we don't envisage building them until the wall was built.

The garden might seem large compared to suburban vegetable gardens,but we arrived at it after doing research on the growing spacerequired to keep us reasonably self sufficient in vegetables, plus provide room for some small fruit trees that otherwise would not survive the hard frosts.

The site for the garden was chosen because:
- Only really flat land on property near to present house
- Site is near to existing dam, for water supply
- Near to orchard area we have started to plant
- Away from shade of established tall gum trees
- Doesn't disrupt views down the valley

At present, the site for the garden (like all of the 30 acres) is unused except by the next door neighbours who occasionally graze sheep on it to keep the grass down. It is just bare land with no vegetation except for a sparse covering of grass.

Based on the above, do you think we would need planning permission for the garden walls? If so, are there any things we could change about our plans that might make it not the case, at least for the initial stages?

We're happy to apply for permits, but, as this is likely to be a 5+ year project (given the problem of us not living in Australia), we would, more than likely, be unable to complete the structure within 2 years. If we were able to hold off on getting a permit until a later stage of the garden building (eg: after we'd built 2 of the 4 walls or some such other partial step) so that we'd have a shot to complete it within the life of the permit, that would be brilliant. Alternatively, what if we initially just built columns but did not fill in the wall between them? Is it possible to apply for extensions?

Any advice you can give would be appreciated.


"While walled gardens are not common it looks ok subject to wall heights not being visually excessive in appearance and materials[concept ok] also masonary code building regs apply"

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