Changes to Planning to Support Home Businesses


Earlier this year the State Government introduced an amendment to update and streamline parts of planning.  As part of that the particular provision that provides controls for Home Occupations was updated.  These changes have been introduced to support small businesses and provide greater flexibility for the growing home business sector.

Businesses operated within the home are allowed without requiring a planning permit when certain conditions are met.  The planning scheme provides details on the requirements that need to be met for these activities to be carried out, and this is contained within Clause 52.11 of all planning schemes.

Its All In A Name

The first change to the provision is the name. It has been renamed Home Based Business from Home Occupation.  Both the use and the clause have been updated to use this term.  This name better reflects what it is about and will make it easier for people who are not familiar with town planning to understand it.  It also makes it clear that it is a business that can be run from the dwelling, not just activities associated with someones occupation, which provides clarification for non-planning professionals.

Increasing Requirements

More importantly, the provision has been updated to increase some of the requirements to allow for greater scope with home businesses.  The number of people that don’t live in the dwelling that may work in the business has been increased from 1 to 2.  The floor area that can be used for the business activities has also been increased.  Both of these requirements can also be further increased with a planning permit.  This allows for greater scope for home based businesses to expand and grow while still remaining within the home, affording business owners greater flexibility and options.

The provision has also been updated to provide for the sale of goods online.  Previously only good manufactured or serviced in the business could be offered for sale, but now this limitation is only for goods sold in person.   Any types of goods can be sold online.  This recognises the strong online business sector that is an expanding business type.

Limitations

In keeping with the proliferation of online businesses, the provision has also been updated to state that goods sold online must not be collected from the dwelling.  Presumably this is to ensure the amenity of surrounding properties is not impacted.  However there is already an amenity requirement within the planning scheme, as businesses must not adversely affect the neighbourhood, including through the parking of motor vehicles.  I think that the prohibition of picking up of any goods sold online is an unnecessary restriction. While I understand the need to protect the neighbourhood amenity, I can’t see how allowing customers to pick up goods is more likely to impact on the neighbourhood than having people visit for appointments and the like.  This is contrary to a a growing business sector and in particular may negatively impact on micro and niche businesses that offer pick up of goods sold online to support their customers.

Overall the changes to the provision allows greater scope and flexibility for home based businesses and will support this growing and important sector.  Hopefully the provisions will be reconsidered in the future to recognise that allowing pick up of goods (allbeit potentially in a limited capacity) is a necessary addition to home based business planning controls.

If your home business is expanding we would love to help you explore the options to increase the number of employees or the floor area of the business.  Contact us today for a chat about the next steps.