Changes to Nature-Based Tourism

The Planning Scheme amendments introduce a new nature-based tourism code and reduced levels of assessment for self-contained recreational vehicles provided certain criteria are met. The purpose of these amendments is to recognise the value of small-scale nature-based tourism to the Tablelands Region and simplify the planning process for residents wishing to establish these uses on their property. The new code ensures nature-based tourism operates in a manner that does not adversely impact the amenity or environmental values of the area.

What Uses Can be Established?

A self-contained recreational vehicle ground may be established as accepted development if your property is in an appropriate zone and the use complies with the requirements of the Planning Scheme. Accepted development is development that does not need a development approval from TRC. Whether a project is accepted development depends on the property’s zoning and if local plans or overlays apply. The proposed development must also comply with all the applicable assessment criteria. If not, it becomes code assessable and a development application is required.

It is always a good idea to confirm with us that your project is accepted development prior to commencing. These projects may also need building and plumbing certification so it is advisable to check with a private building certifier before starting work.

Accepted development was previously referred to as self-assessable development.

The Nature-Based Tourism Code also facilitates and encourages other forms of nature-based tourism in appropriate locations subject to an approval from TRC.

Where Is Nature-Based Tourism Encouraged?

Nature-based tourism is encouraged in the:

  • Rural Zone (where not impacted by an overlay)
  • Rural Residential Zone (where not impacted by an overlay)
  • Emerging Communities Zone (where not impacted by an overlay)
  • Recreation and Open Space Zone (if within an existing tourist park)

Requirements & Limitations

For a self-contained recreational vehicle ground to be established without a development approval it must:

  • contain:
    • six self-contained vehicle sites in the Rural Zone (General Rural and Agricultural Land Precincts), Rural Residential Zone and Emerging Communities Zone
    • 20 self-contained vehicle sites in the Rural Zone (Agricultural Investigation and Broad Hectare Precincts).
  • be on a site that is 2ha or larger with a road frontage of 50m and not a rear lot accessed via an easement
  • contain sites that are a minimum of 100m2  with a minimum dimension of 10m
  • contain sites and facilities that are setback
    • 50m from a common boundary with a property in the Rural Zone
    • 20m from a common boundary with any other zone
  • ensure the maximum length of stay is:
    • 13 consecutive nights in the Rural Zone (Agricultural Investigation and Broad Hectare Precincts)
    • six consecutive nights in all other relevant zones and zone precincts
  • provide vehicle access limited to one entry/exit on the lowest order road
  • contain sites that do not have direct access to a public road
  • provide internal roads that:
    • have minimum widths of 4m for one-way roads and 6m for two-way roads
    • facilitate unobstructed access for emergency vehicles
    • avoid flood- and bushfire-prone areas
    • have dedicated evacuation routes that are clearly signed.
  • provide these facilities (if the property accommodates 11 or more vehicles):
    • at least one unisex toilet
    • a central refuse collection bin
    • a dump point


While a development application and approval would not be necessary to establish Nature Based Tourism proposals that comply with the above requirements, Council would continue to levy infrastructure charges for the use as it has done in the past. Infrastructure charges are a legislated funding mechanism whereby Council may collect monetary contributions from the proponents of development that is likely to place additional demand on Council’s infrastructure networks. The monies are directed towards the upgrade and renewal of key infrastructure items identified by Council’s Local Government Infrastructure Plan. The networks for which infrastructure charges are collected are Council-controlled roads, reticulated water supply, reticulated sewerage, urban stormwater and public open space.

Council’s Adopted Infrastructure Charges Resolution (No. 1 of 2019) provides guidance as to the appropriate charge under circumstances where a development site is benefitted by all of Council’s infrastructure networks, the full charge currently being $2,500.00 per accommodation site. Proportionate charge discounts would, however, apply where the development site would not gain access to certain networks and the emphasis on self-contained vehicles should mean that charges relating to reticulated water supply and sewerage should rarely (if ever) apply. Most Nature Based Tourism sites in rural areas also won’t be benefitted by urban stormwater infrastructure. This means that the majority of Nature Based Tourism uses would only attract charges for Council-controlled roads and public open space, in which case the charges would be reduced to $750.00 per accommodation site.

NB: Council’s Adopted Infrastructure Charges Resolution is subject to periodic review and therefore the applicable charge may vary should operations commence following the adoption of a revised resolution.