SUTHERLAND Shire Council says the impact of a ‘‘knock-down-rebuild’’ house plan on a neighbouring property at Miranda is a good example of challenges associated with the growing use of solar power.
Former schoolteacher Peter Thompson lives in a single-storey, war-service home, owned by his family for 60 years.
A young couple bought a similar house next door, and wants to replace it with a two-storey home, as several others in the street have also done.
The council approved the development despite Mr Thompson’s complaint that it would overshadow solar panels on his roof, making them ineffective.
Under present rules, a new development ‘‘must not eliminate more than one-third of the existing sunlight to usable private open space and windows of living areas of an adjoining property measured at 9am and 3pm on June 21’’.
Mr Thompson said while some of the nine panels would still get sunlight, all panels needed to operate.
‘‘This council is lagging well behind others when it comes to solar power use, and needs to update,’’ he said.
‘‘Since we installed our system two years ago, we have slashed our power bills and are $400 in credit.’’
A solicitor representing Mr Thompson wrote to his neighbours last week, threatening to take the matter to the Land and Environment Court.
The couple, who did not wish to be named, said they had already taken reasonable steps to limit the impact of their home, including lowering the house and tapering the first floor to minimise overshadowing.
‘‘The council, as the governing body, obviously agrees with us,’’ they said.
‘‘While we have been prepared to compromise, there seems to be none of that on Peter’s side.
‘‘We want to build a family home and live here for many years, and other neighbours have been
The spokeswoman said this case was ‘‘a good example of the challenges associated with this issue’’.
Blocks in the street ran east-west, meaning any two-storey house would cast a shadow on the property to the south.
‘‘The fact that the resident has a single-storey house and has his panels located on the northern side of his roof makes it difficult for the neighbour to achieve a two-storey house without affecting the solar panels,’’ she said.
‘‘The question is: how far should the expectations of a person wanting to build a house be restricted by the decision of a neighbour to put solar panels on their roof?
‘‘Should the neighbour be forced to build a single-storey house or to constrain the design of the proposed two-storey house for the benefit of the neighbour? Council’s position is that this would not be reasonable.’’
In such cases the council tried to find a compromise.
DThe spokeswoman said, in such cases, the council looked for ways to try and accommodate the aspirations of both parties.
‘‘In the end, the loss of sun to panels is not a strong enough ground to refuse a DA that is otherwise reasonable,’’ she said.
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