FARM owners prefer to have their land utilised for investments rather than agricultural farming for food security.
This was revealed at the Town Planning Compliance workshop in Labasa yesterday.
Principal town planner Raijeli Taylor said there were challenges and wrangles between retaining agricultural land for food security against interests of farm owners.
She added these farm owners wanted a higher return of investment from their land and viewed farming as a low income source.
Ms Taylor reminded participants there was a need to protect reserves or vulnerable areas from urban development.
"In the peri-urban and rural areas, improvements in infrastructure have not only contributed to 'returned migrants' (those leaving the rural areas through urban pull factors) but it has also opened up our beautiful natural landscapes."
"Amidst these are the determinant and influential factors from ownership and legal rights to development, restrictions and reserves, availability of basic infrastructure, capital programs, airport and port expansions against the need to ensuring provision of public amenities, spaces and regard for our natural environment," she said.
"This has made it subjected to investment whether real estate, tourism development resource based industries. The Department of Town and Country Planning has strategic physical plans on areas for growth and projected growth."
Ms Taylor told government stakeholders that as regulators they also had a role in ensuring compliance.
"Decisions made on land development today influence its growth and directions tomorrow," she said.
She added that the department had received an increasing number of applications to subdivide land — either to renew or totally new applications.