The New South Wales government has clarified local planning laws to confirm that home-based businesses can conduct ecommerce, in a “major victory” for SMEs in the state.

Through amendments to the Local Environment Plan, the state government provided new definitions of “home business” and “home industry” to confirm that these companies are allowed to conduct online retail sales from these locations.

The issue was put on the agenda after confusion in the Uralla Shire over the interpretation of these laws and whether individuals in the area were allowed to sell items online from their home.

The Uralla Shire Council last week said that home-based businesses could sell items online that had been produced in the dwelling, not somewhere offsite.

The amendment, which applies across the state, removes this confusion and clarifies that online retail can be conducted from a home, even if the goods have been produced somewhere else, NSW deputy premier John Barilaro said.

“The changes to the Local Environment Plan was about removing any doubt as to how councils should interpret some of the definitions around home-based businesses under the Local Environment Plan,” Barilaro told Information Age.

“The amendments to the LEP, enacted by Minister Stokes, have achieved that.”

The amendments altered the definitions of “home business” and “home industry” in the plan to a “business, whether or not involving the sale of items online, carried on in a dwelling, or in a building ancillary to a dwelling, by one or more permanent residents of the dwelling”.

These businesses are allowed to conduct online retail from their homes, so long as they don’t have more than two people working there who aren’t residents, are not interfering with the neighbours through noise or other means, and the only signage is business identification.

While these businesses were already allowed to conduct online retail sales, this move was about removing any doubt or concern, Barilaro said.

“Small businesses are the backbone of regional NSW and many are home-based online stores and they need certainty about where and how they can trade,” he said.

“Sydneysiders answered the call by supporting regional businesses during the drought and online sales have boomed during COVID-19, so it’s important that businesses in Uralla, and across the state, not be excluded from selling goods to their online customers.

“After such an unpredictable and tumultuous year, it’s vital we provide certainty to communities who are doing it tough, and I’m thrilled we could make this happen just in time for Christmas.”

It’s important to have this clarification before the busy Christmas period, Minister for Small Business Damien Tudehope said.

“A lot of home-based and regional businesses rely on online trade and we saw what a difference campaigns such as Buy Regional and Buy from the Bush made to them,” Tudehope said.

“This is a way for all these businesses who have been doing it tough with drought, bushfires, floods and now COVID to continue to sell their products without the worry.”

It’s important that local planning instruments such as this stay up-to-date with technologies and the way companies are conducting business, Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall said.

“The changes are part of a push to modernise, simplify and clarify the planning system and provide certainty for the community and business,” Marshall said.