Can I have horses without first checking with the Shire?

Published on Tuesday, 25 May 2021 at 10:48:30 AM

One of the most common and enduring planning queries is the keeping of livestock – particularly horses. We also look at sheep and goats for ‘mowing’ purposes from time to time and alpacas because they make for interesting dinner conversation.

Did you know that the keeping of livestock is a land use? And that unless you are in Rural zoned land that you will need to have development approval in most instances. That does not mean to say that Rural land is completely exempt either. An Equestrian Centre, for example – will need development approval on Rural land.

For the purposes of this article however, we will focus on the most common land use – Rural Pursuits and the most common animal – the horse. Under the Shire’s Local Planning Scheme No. 4 a rural pursuit means, among other things, the rearing and agistment of animals and the stabling, agistment and training of horses.

The Scheme will exempt you from requiring development approval in Rural Residential or Rural Living zoned land for a Rural Pursuit IF it is not used for trade or commercial purposes and complies with the recommended stocking rates and environmental protection requirements of the relevant State Government departments. It is up to you to demonstrate this capability to us however we can assist you with these calculations.

Notwithstanding the above, there are also other rural residential requirements in the Scheme which are specific to certain subdivisions which may prohibit rural pursuits and livestock – such as Rugged Hills.

Sometimes we are faced with a request to overstock the land. This means that the proposed number of horses does not meet the recommended (base) stocking rate for the land. For example, the base stocking rate is for 2 horses but you want 4. As part of the development application process, Shire Officers will ask for a horse management plan (also known as an equine management plan) to accompany any application.

The purpose of these management plans is to provide an effective way to ensure that your horse does not adversely impact on the land, soil, water, air and vegetation of your small property. The plan is a useful tool that addresses best management of the environment and details how you will manage nutrients, dust, odour, water resources and paddocks.

New landholders intending to keep horses and existing landholders wishing to increase horse numbers on their property, are advised to contact the Shire of Toodyay in the first instance.

So, even if you are Andrew Hoy with more equestrian experience than you can shake a riding crop at – you still need to get in touch with the Shire so we can ensure you are given the best advice early on. Our job is not to determine if you love your horses – it is whether the land and your neighbours will!

(Andrew Hoy — seven time Olympian representing Australia. Andrew has won four Olympic medals: three gold and one silver, in the sport of eventing).



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