Paper subdivisions


As of 1 December 2021, a reference to an Environment Protection zone E1, E2, E3 or E4 in a document should be taken to be a reference to a Conservation zone C1, C2, C3 or C4. For further information please view Standard Instrument (Local Environmental Plans) Amendment (Land Use Zones) Order 2021.

Paper subdivisions are historical, undeveloped subdivisions that were approved on paper but generally lack infrastructure like formed roads, drainage, reticulated water, sewer or electricity, and in most cases are not zoned for development.

These subdivisions were registered prior to the land use zoning and the requirement for subdivision infrastructure to be provided before registration of subdivision plans.

Although there are paper subdivisions elsewhere in the NSW, the Jervis Bay area is a ‘hot spot’ because of its link with Canberra’s history.

History of Shoalhaven's paper subdivisions

Developers from the mid-1910s to the early 1920s speculatively bought and subdivided land in the Jervis Bay area based on conjecture that the area would extensively be developed as a port for Canberra and be directly linked to Canberra by a railway line.

Events that created and impacted Shoalhaven’s paper subdivisions and their zoning are as follows:


  • Canberra selected as our national capital and Jervis Bay nominated its maritime outlet

1910 to early 1920s

  • These events triggered a significant increase in subdivisions in the Jervis Bay area

Early 1930s (The Great Depression 1929-1939)

  • Thousands of paper subdivision lots created in approved plans but remained undeveloped and without services


  • Land use zoning is first introduced
  • Many paper subdivisions zoned ‘rural’ generally prevented the development of individual lots

Mid 1980s to early 1990s

  • Controversial sale of some paper subdivisions to individual owners (e.g. by Heritage Real Estate Pty Ltd)
  • Council initiated rezoning investigations in response to requests by owners

Special rates charges

Council’s decisions to investigate rezoning these paper subdivisions were conditional on the owners paying for rezoning investigations and for infrastructure and services if the land is rezoned.

Special rates were levied in the following Estates to fund rezoning investigations and in some cases, road upgrades:

  • Heritage Estates
  • Jerberra Estate
  • Nebraska Estate
  • Verons Estate

A summary of special rates expenditure is updated quarterly and can be viewed at:

Transfer of land in lieu of unpaid rates

If requested by the owner, Council may accept the transfer of land within 'paper subdivisions' in lieu of unpaid rates in accordance with Council's policy:

In this circumstance, Council will meet all legal costs associated with the transfer of the land.

Debt recovery action

Where property owners are subject to debt recovery action, land owners will have 30 days to agree to a repayment schedule or transfer of the land to Council.

Alternatively, under S.713 of the Local Government Act, 1993 Council may move to sell the land by public auction where rates and charges have been unpaid for more than five years.

Camping in paper subdivisions

NSW Legislation provides limited opportunities for camping on private land without Council approval. Camping cannot be legally undertaken on land within a paper subdivision without approval under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act. See below for more information:

Visitors are legally responsible for managing and disposing of their waste. Failure to comply with these legal responsibilities can result in fines and prosecution.

People interested in camping are encouraged to stay in one of the many caravan parks or campgrounds located across the Shoalhaven which are equipped with appropriate facilities and waste management systems.