My family and I emigrated from the UK and arrived in Logan in 2004. We are now in our 16th year. We decided to move to Australia when our son was just 11. We previously travelled around this beautiful country, realised the opportunities and lifestyle was something we would all benefit as a family. Four years later we emigrated to Logan a perfect place between Brisbane and the Gold Coast Logan. I call it my sweet place.
We were recommended to choose Logan as is was a growing well-centred place between Brisbane and the Gold Coast. Demographic for younger families, many cultures and had plenty of work and a great outdoor lifestyle and amenities.
I was permitted a skilled visa; I am a qualified chef, pastry chef, Adult Education/Tafe lecturer and a qualified swimming instructor. My husband and son and I all have our Australian Citizenship and was a very proud moment for all 3 of us when we attended the ceremony.
My son attended Springwood State High School has now gone through University and now is a primary school teacher.
He has taught at Chatswood Hills and Daisy Hill primary schools. He currently teaches and lives in Bundaberg with his partner.
My husband is a fire door project manager; this comes in handy with my cooking skills! He loves what he does too, most of the time!
As for myself, I worked for the first year at Ikea at its old location in Logan and made many new friends.
I then worked for another two years in hospitality as a Head Chef in Thornlands and then I was ready to set up a home-based cake business. I was making celebration and wedding cakes from the restaurant, building up my customer base and growing the business and then realised the business was structured enough to run full time and I wanted to leave the restaurant and finally work for myself. It took almost two years to leave the restaurant and below is the reason why.
Planning consent with Logan Council
It was then I realised the difficulties in local applications with our council.
Living in the UK most councils, all have similar fees, the same timeline for applications across the counties. My husband and I had an extension on our house in the UK as my cake business was expanding there and we needed extra space as our home was tiny. Planning applications I am already experienced with, including plumbing and relaxation permits for builds. My husband lets me do the paperwork as I do better with this, and the areas of his strength are Diy. We had a significant extension on our UK home and was sad to leave our home but knew of the possibilities in Australia.
Before I emigrated from the UK, I already had made contact with a home-based cake business in Brisbane, and the owner explained that I would need to apply for a food license and comply with the rules and regulations and be inspected by the council. This was the same procedure as in the UK.
What I thought would be a piece of cake! was not. It took over almost two years to get it all in place and vast amounts of money.
Logan Council said they could not give me a food licence, full stop. Only daycare centres and B&B could have one. No one in Logan had a home-based food license for cakes, and they could not give me a consent as it needed to be built as commercial premises, and as it was home, this could not be permitted. Even though I did not make wholesale orders, it did not matter.
I was shocked and had researched other local councils as Brisbane, Redland Bay and the Gold Coast would allow a home-based food license for cakes to be made, yet Logan council could not.
So many meetings, phone calls were made, with the council, a home visit to view the brand new kitchen we had made in our downstairs renovation and the answer was still a firm no.
I discussed with my husband and asked whether it was now the time to move from this council and move to a nearby one that does allow it?
I got in touch with my local councillor and explained I wanted a home-based food license to operate legally; the response was after talking to the council, just to run an office business from home as that is what they will allow. I said that I wanted to be a legally licensed food business and working from my house, not to do it undercover. My dream was to have a home-based, fully licensed cake business.
I finally managed to speak to the head development planning officer at the council and explained what the situation was. We liaised with the town planning department, who spoke to me as if I had a degree in building code and certification. I asked them to discuss with me in simple layman's terms. I also talked with one of the EHO officers, who was helpful about specific food laws and I asked for the link for the food acts.
After getting a copy of the food act, I found and pointed out a section that described my business as it was, not wholesale and that if I complied with code, I then could be approved for a food license. This was stated in the food act.
I thought this was now the end of the rainbow, but then there was more.......
Material Change of Use
The council planning department now insisted I apply for a material change of use to my home.
The cost was just over $2k with further cost of a large ad in the planning section of our local papers, cost of a large sign outside my home stating my change of use displayed for 30 days — letters to adjoining neighbours for any objections.
Thankfully there were no objections at the council hearing or from any of my neighbours.
You think that would be a great result/ no there was more.......
I was then asked to pay for an impact survey before my business food license could be granted.
The survey was to access how many cars would visit or home deliveries of supplies. I told them I collect from the stores and do not have home deliveries and most of the cakes made I deliver to the venues. I do teach classes, and most cars would be 4
I saw this as just another hurdle to jump, and I have springs in my shoes. The cost of the survey was several thousand dollars, of which we did not have.
After many more discussions, I got the impact fee waivered as I proved that other supermarket food businesses deliver to customers in my street, and they have not paid an impact charge.
You think that would be a great result/ no there was more.....
I then had to have off rd parking for four cars instead of 2; thankfully we had the space to do so, again It was just another hurdle but remember I have springs in my shoes.
Finally, I became the first legal, licenced home-based cake business in Logan.
My Mum has always said, "That which does not kill us makes us stronger."
Resilience is something I always have had.
Planning at Logan council is not as straightforward as it could be, what can be changed. The charges are costliest than the surrounding councils, why is that? I want to see the costs be the same as other councils? I also want it to be a more straightforward process and see better reasoning with each business they have that approach them. A business by business we are not all generic.
Contemporary Cakes and Classes
For ten years, I have been a small business owner Contemporary Cakes and Classes, Daisy Hill and have received a five-star license since the food safe stars were introduced, for the last seven years.
I now run business courses for home-based businesses to help other mums to become food licensed and legally run a business from home selling cakes, not be illegal as the many others.
Author of 2 cake decorating and baking books and compiled a third book for Logan Chamber of Commerce Business 2 Business book.
Many great opportunities have presented, and I travel and teach around the world. Teaching cake decorating, a cake judge and run business and mentoring workshops.
I teach many baking and decorating classes, and I love being to enable skills and can-do positivity, to everyone I meet in each class.
Now is the time for change and I am raising my hand to run for logan city council division one.