Changes proposed to lessen the impact of bulky townhouses

Sutherland Shire Council has made last minute change draft Development Control Plan to lessen the impact of new townhouse developments following complaints from residents.

The change was made to correct the imbalance for controls for detached dwellings and townhouses.

Following a motion put forward by Labor councillor Diedree Steinwall, the council voted unanimously to extend the 60/40 rule that covers detached dwellings and dual occupancies to also cover townhouses.

The draft DCP has now been sent to NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes for consideration.

“If approved by the Minister, the change will mean that, in future, townhouse developments can no longer be built with a second storey on the rear 40 per cent of the block,” Cr Steinwall said.

In other words, townhouses could no longer have a second storey that is 100 per cent of the block. Dual occupancies already have this control.

Cr Steinwall said she has had many emails from residents complaining about the impact of new townhouse developments on their properties.

And because townhouses can be built in low density residential areas, but without the same controls as detached dwellings, their impact is being noticeably felt.

“Probably the most complaints I hear from residents has been the massive overshadowing from townhouses affecting their privacy and solar access.

“This is a major win for residents who have consistently expressed their outrage that the present rules allow townhouses to be built along the full length of the block, completely destroying the privacy and amenity of residents living next door in detached dwelling,” Cr Steinwell said.

This is the third major change to planning matters made under the new council.

Last month the council revoked the delegated authority granted to the Sutherland Shire Council general manager by the previous Liberal-dominated council to determine development applications reviewed by the Independent Hearing and Assessment Panel.

These  applications will now be referred to councillors in open council.

Councillors have also supported rule changes to ensure that ward councillors are to be present when the mayor first discusses major proposals with would-be developers for residential development greater than dual occupancy buildings and major non-residential development that would generate significant traffic or impact on the amenity of the locality.

Within a week of lodgment, councilors will be notified of all major development applications by ward.

Cr Steinwall and her fellow Labor councillors have also flagged more changes.

Up for discussion are ways to improve the neighbour notification process for development applications as set out in the draft development control plan.

Cr Steinwall called for a briefing for councillors examining who is notified about a development application, the chosen area of notification and the timing of notification of development applications.

Also to be looked at is the re-notification process following amendments to already approved development applications.

“People feel they are not being notified when a development is approved next door, or are being given sufficient timing to comment.

“People feel powerless to control what is happening net to them.

“They are not being told if a modification is proposed to a development application next door to them  unless it substantial change.

“We need to clarification of what is a substantial change.

“A small change may be where windows are approved overlooking a backyard without any notification. This could still have impact on the privacy of people next door.

“They should be given some power to make a comment if they are affected. The aim is to explore ways to improve the all aspects of the notification process.”

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