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The Importance Of The Right Advice

The Importance Of The Right Advice

by Justin Eslick

Here is an example of what can happen on the back of poor advice, or working with people that don't have a thorough understanding of the rules. It is quite technical, but I'll explain it as best I can. The solution, however, is quite simple.

There was a contentious application near a property I own. It involved the demolition of an old character home and the creation of some new townhouses in its place.

The site is zoned to allow units/townhouses and there was no Demolition Control or Heritage notations over the site.  In other words, it should be possible to demolish the house.

However, under the planning scheme and within the rules relating to the development of townhouses, there is a single piece of criteria that must be met: "Buildings built prior to 1900 must be retained whether in a Demolition Control Precinct or not".

The applicant stated the dwelling was post-1900 and proposed removal as part of the application. Unfortunately they came unstuck when a local history buff pointed out during the submissions process, that council records show the dwelling as being much older than 1900.

After this submission was received by council there is a gap in communication accessible by the public.  However, a new set of plans have been lodged that involve the retention of the dwelling.

The applicant (and their consultants) have made numerous mistakes with their approach to this application.

  • They either didn't research the year of the dwelling and made an assumption of its age, or knew the age and lied about it. We'll give them the benefit of the doubt and suggest they didn't do proper research
  • The requirement to retain the dwelling is brought about by an application for a multi-unit dwelling and through no other way. There is no Demolition Control and there is no Heritage Listing. The removal of pre-1946 houses (including pre-1900 houses) is considered exempt development (i.e. it isn't assessed against the town plan) when there is no demolition control or heritage listings.
  • They had the right to remove the dwelling before applying for the townhouses. It was only the result of the application for townhouses that they were then asked to keep the dwelling.

We in no way encourage the removal of character homes. In fact, our numbers usually work best where they are retained. However, this owner clearly had a desire to remove the dwelling and it was possible... had they done their research, received the right advice and done things in a precise order.

Because they did none of this they can no longer do what it is they had planned. They may have also purchased the site on assumptions that were not correct, which is when you tend to discover your numbers blow out. They have also had to essentially pay their consultants for two sets of plans and two sets of applications (even though one could argue it was their stuff up to begin with). Lastly, this whole process has taken 18 months, where it should have been done in 6 months.

This is a clear example of how the right advice can save you a heap of time, trouble and money. Town planning and developing are complex activities and it isn't always possible to avoid situations like this... after all, there is always the general community (including anti-development folk) and council who get to have a say in what you do, but it is possible to reduce the risk and mistakes you make.

Visit our site to find out how.


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