Agricultural Land Study

Understanding the inherent value of agriculture to the economy and the nature and distribution of agricultural activities across a municipality is crucial for strategic planning purposes. Assessment of the main enterprises and their resource needs and the potential impacts of non-agricultural developments on the agricultural resource base has been a growing area of consulting for AK Consultants in recent years. This combined with the requirements of the State Policy on the Protection of Agricultural Land 2009, has led to an increasing interaction between municipal planners and AK Consultants and development of a methodology that identifies the important agricultural activities in a municipality and areas in the Rural Zone that are already constrained as far as potential agricultural use.

This method was initially developed for the Meander Valley Council (in conjunction with GHD) in 2006 and then improved substantially to incorporate a GIS model in conjunction with the Launceston City Council. The methodology is comprised of three sequential developed products; Agricultural Profile of the Municipality, Constraints Analysis and GIS model. In Dec 2010 an Agricultural profile was undertaken for the eight municipalities in the Northern Region and a Regional Summary was completed for Northern Tasmania Development. This provides a valuable reference document for strategic planning purposes.

The Constraints Analysis is an automated GIS based procedure which assesses each title in the Rural Zone, and rates the extent to which its’ value for agriculture has been constrained. The constraints analysis considers the characteristics of each title, including the size and presence of a house on the title, the potential for a proposed development to fetter agricultural use and development on the title, and “connectivity” with adjacent titles. Connectivity refers to the extent to which a title can be farmed in conjunction with adjacent titles.

This assessment procedure has practical value in the assessment of land in the “peri-urban” zone where there is strong demand for agricultural land for use as “life style” or low density residential uses. The procedures provide a consistent, transparent and repeatable procedure for the assessment of the degree of constraint on the title to conduct agricultural activities. A constraints analysis of titles in the Rural Zone has been undertaken for Meander Valley, Launceston and West Tamar Municipalities.

As part of this work and to assist in developing a common understanding of the requirements the State policy on the Protection of Agricultural Land 2009, AKC has developed standard definitions for commonly used terms such viability, connectivity, integral and subservient.