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All Barr None – Urban Planning in the ACT

By 19 November 2010 68

Sun room

A few short month ago we came home to see a deck being build about 1.5 metres from our fence. The deck was the height of the fence – just under 2 metres. Interesting we thought. Must give the neighbour a nice view of our back yard, bedroom and toilet. Great!

Decided to contact ACTPLA and found out that a sun room was going to be built on top of the deck. Clear privacy issues, not to mention impact on the value of our property. Anyway, we ended up lodging a complaint with ACTPLA to have the work stopped or modified. Checked with relative interstate and sent photos. You guessed it. Not allowed in other jurisdictions and neighbours have to have the opportunity to comment.

Not in the ACT and not under this Minister (Andrew Barr). We wait and wait for ACTPLA to get back to us. All the while the building continues. How does that work? A complaint is lodged and work continues.

Eventually I contacted ACTPLA and insisted on being told what they were doing. You guessed it – the sunroom was exempt. Privacy issues and impact on the value of our property ignored. The first thought that went through my mind was well, what if we put up a sunroom? Following ACTPLAs logical we could also build a sunroom a mere 1.5 metres from the fence line and just under 2 metres from ground level. Imagine that neighbours with sunrooms a mere 3 metres apart. Could make a nude romp on a summers day really interesting.

Oh well. Just under two weeks ago contact Minister Andrew Barr’s office. The result? Despite being sent photos the Minister’s Office thinks there is nothing amiss. Again privacy issues and impact on the value of our property not even considered.

Let’s look at the bigger issue here.

    – In the ACT and under the custodianship of Andrew Barr it is OK to:
    – Put up sunrooms that tower over another persons property
    – For government agencies not to contact impacted residents.
    – Ignore privacy concerns.
    – Ignore the impact of developments on the value of another persons property.

Where does that leave urban planning in the ACT? Nowhere.

Here’s my take on this. Poor legislation compared to other States and Territories. A public service unable to excise common sense judgement. A lack of openness and transparency on the part of government and the public service when dealing with citizens.

Amazing stuff by any standard.

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68 Responses to
All Barr None – Urban Planning in the ACT
Thumper 10:58 am
19 Nov 10
#1

Plant Leyland Cyprus about a metre apart right on your fence line.

In three years time the branches will be growing through the sun room and you’ll have an awesome hedge.

Or get some corro and build the tallest and ugliest fence possible. On your side you can grow a nice vine, say, a potato vone.

ConanOfCooma 11:00 am
19 Nov 10
#2

Declare a building war on your neighbours – They aren’t going to take it down, so you need to go higher. Something with a butress or perhaps an entrance gate with guard towers (complete with portcullis) and a moat.

Alternatively, you could have a nudist open day in the back yard.

I am more than happy to come around when they are entertaining and start eating my own feces in front of them – Lets see them invade THAT privacy!

jimbocool 11:01 am
19 Nov 10
#3

Actually, planning in the ACT is really strict. It’s hard to build anything legally without having first had a Development Application (DA) approved by ACTPLA. Some decks are exempt form needing a DA, but a deck with a roof requires specific approval. Any big strucutre such as a sunroom needs a DA – if they haven’t done one you’re well within your rights to complain (there’s a form for it on the ACTPLA website) and a stop work notice can be issued. However, it’s possible they did do a DA and you may not have been consulted if you are not the owner of your property – ACTPLA will only write to the registered owners.

DeadlySchnauzer 11:04 am
19 Nov 10
#4

Something seems amiss here. If a deck, sunroom or indeed any addition to a house penetrates the standard building envelope (which looking at the photos this seems to do), then it is required to go through a public notification and approval process in addition to having a plan lodged.

FWIW the standard building envelope runs 3.5m above ground level along the fence line, and slopes inwards at a 45 degree angle. (oh and its 2.5m on the northern boundary).

I would contact a surveyor, who can prove that this addition penetrates the building envelope, and can give you something more formal than photos to go to ACTPLA with.

2.0 11:11 am
19 Nov 10
#5

I say just transplant a few VERY LARGE trees along your fenceline. that should block out the sun for them. (oh and nice dog BTW)

colourful sydney rac 11:19 am
19 Nov 10
#6

DeadlySchnauzer said :

Something seems amiss here. If a deck, sunroom or indeed any addition to a house penetrates the standard building envelope (which looking at the photos this seems to do), then it is required to go through a public notification and approval process in addition to having a plan lodged.

FWIW the standard building envelope runs 3.5m above ground level along the fence line, and slopes inwards at a 45 degree angle. (oh and its 2.5m on the northern boundary).

I would contact a surveyor, who can prove that this addition penetrates the building envelope, and can give you something more formal than photos to go to ACTPLA with.

this. I find it very difficult to believe that this is legit.

AngryHenry 11:23 am
19 Nov 10
#7

Be too bad if a rock flew out of your mower whilst mowing the back lawn and smashed some of those windows wouldn’t it?

Furry Jesus 11:35 am
19 Nov 10
#8

Hvae you spoken to the neighbours at all?

My guess is that anyone so self-centred that they would do this will be outraged at any trespass on their freedom to do what they like, while your freedom to enjoy some privacy is obviously only of a second-class order.

I think a couple of flagpoles on either side of your back yard, with a larger banner slung between, carrying a pithy and yet erudite message (‘Fuck youse all!’ perhaps?)

carnardly 11:41 am
19 Nov 10
#9

I like your doberdog.

Bluenomi 11:44 am
19 Nov 10
#10

I’m surpried you didn’t get a letter from ACTPLA before they approved it. We got one when the people behind us wanted to build a garage behind their house and we can barely see it since our garage blocks the view.

You know I agree with the other, your fence would look great with some big bushy trees in front it. Possibly with some ivy to creep up them and across onto someone’s sunroom….

sepi 11:54 am
19 Nov 10
#11

I like banner idea. Perhaps you could take up art and do portraits of hitler / john howard / dog’s backsides in large scale right outside their sunroom.

troll-sniffer 12:08 pm
19 Nov 10
#12

Not very nice of the neighbours but not a particularly big problem if you’re handy with a hammer etc, but obviously you will have some expense.

Looking at the space and your options, I would recommend two metal poles to the height of the sunroom, concreted a metre deep into the ground at each end of the open space, ie from the tree on the left to at least the middle of the bush on the right.

Using some fencing wire and some form of tensioning string a series of horizontal wires about 30cm apart from pole to pole. Plant an ornamental grape, honeysuckle or something equally fast growing at the base of each post and train them up the pole with side branches trained along the wires. It’ll take a good few years but it’ll be a nice effect in the end.

If you want to block the nice neighbour’s view of your backyard, go off to Hardly Normal, Bing Lee etc and raid their hoppers for frig cartons etc, and wire the cardboard on top the wires. Eventually the rain will destroy the cardboard but by then you should have at least partial privacy from the rapidly growing creepers you’ve planted.

Remember the higher and denser that you make the screen the less enjoyment your uncaring neighbours will get from their ‘sunroom’.

Hank 12:08 pm
19 Nov 10
#13

Get your dog to bark all night, that will show em!

Keijidosha 12:29 pm
19 Nov 10
#14

Solution: Two metal poles in the ground, protruding three metres upwards. String a large rectangular shade sail vertically between the posts, thus blocking their view of your backyard and potentially block out the “sun” for which the room was intended.

Shouldn’t cost you more than about $250.

watto23 12:34 pm
19 Nov 10
#15

Before running your mouth off in some political crusade, have you read the ACTPLA guidelines.

http://www.actpla.act.gov.au/topics/design_build/da_assessment/exempt_work/process/decks

The 1.5 m from the fenceline is standard unfortunately.

stormboy 12:38 pm
19 Nov 10
#16

That is BS. Invite these guys over for a barbie. http://the-riotact.com/?p=31585

Steve D 12:43 pm
19 Nov 10
#17

I really like some of these suggestions and the humour (luv it). The banner idea really slays me. Loud speakers playing propaganda statements 24/7 with spotlights thrown in at night. And on a Sunday . . . Sex Pistols – Anarchy in the UK – full blast.

D2 12:54 pm
19 Nov 10
#18

It’s a bloody disgrace. Good luck.

Chaz 12:58 pm
19 Nov 10
#19

call Today Tonight

Amanda Hugankis 1:17 pm
19 Nov 10
#20

sepi said :

I like banner idea. Perhaps you could take up art and do portraits of hitler / john howard / dog’s backsides in large scale right outside their sunroom.

I’m down with this too. And just think – the possibilities are endless. Blown up pictures of Tony Abbott in his bugglers, Donatella Versace, Justin Bieber … or THAT Joel photo (with pixels of course, don’t want to frighten any kiddies). Blow them up to A0 size … laminate for weather hardiness, pin to a frame, face them directly at their sun room windows. I like it very much.

eyeLikeCarrots 1:19 pm
19 Nov 10
#21

Who the frack wants to build a sunroom in Canberra for summer ?

“Its 40 degrees in the shade today, I think I’ll whack up a dirty great big glass and steel heat trap up on the house. That will piss the neighbours right off and with any luck it might fry the mother in law…. I can’t lose!”

The solution is simple – naked lunches with your husband’s biggest and roundest friends around that fine BBQ every single god damn day – extra points if there is a bottle of peanut butter for Joel Mondghan fun-with-rover.

Steve D 1:34 pm
19 Nov 10
#22

Just to be really clear folks. There was no communication from ACTPLA at all. Just bang cop a sunroom.

switch 1:49 pm
19 Nov 10
#23

Keijidosha said :

Solution: Two metal poles in the ground, protruding three metres upwards. String a large rectangular shade sail vertically between the posts, thus blocking their view of your backyard and potentially block out the “sun” for which the room was intended.

But wouldn’t this contravene the building envelope?

Lazy I 2:20 pm
19 Nov 10
#24

Lazy I said :

not to mention impact on the value of our property

Don’t worry, it has probably impacted the value of their property just as much.

Anyone who thinks that adding one of these illustrious creations or ‘closing in’ a veranda adds value to their house is deluded. It’s equivalent to sticking a caravan in the front yard.

Every time I see a house for sale with one of these delightful additions my first thought is where else the owners have cheaped out or taken shortcuts on the house.

I think troll-sniffer’s idea sounds good.

Postalgeek 2:55 pm
19 Nov 10
#25

And while you’re waiting for the green screen to grow, don’t forget to add a glaring flood light to light up every time pup goes past the back fence at night

amarooresident3 2:58 pm
19 Nov 10
#26

Steve D said :

Just to be really clear folks. There was no communication from ACTPLA at all. Just bang cop a sunroom.

That would be your grounds for appeal, presuming they (or the owners of the other property) had to notify you and failed to do so.

I’d be getting some legal advice if I was you.

toriness 3:04 pm
19 Nov 10
#27

DeadlySchnauzer 3:30 pm
19 Nov 10
#28

watto23 said :

Before running your mouth off in some political crusade, have you read the ACTPLA guidelines.

http://www.actpla.act.gov.au/topics/design_build/da_assessment/exempt_work/process/decks

The 1.5 m from the fenceline is standard unfortunately.

The 1.5m is only one of a number of requirements. The others that this clearly breaks are:
1. “It does not have a roof”
2. “The height of the finished floor level is not more than… 1m above finished ground level”

But that aside the exemption criteria only exempts you from lodging a development application for developments that already meet the building code. This one does not meet the building code because it contravenes the building envelope.

blue eyes 3:33 pm
19 Nov 10
#29

The sunroom looks shiteous, I’ll give you that, but isn’t there a law against taking photos of private property (and posting them on the interwebs) without the owner’s approval? Kinda getting a ‘Peeping Tom’ vibe. That said, I agree with other Rioters – make their outlook as ugly as possible.

I-filed 3:33 pm
19 Nov 10
#30

Good luck if your neighbours happen to be ACT Govt employees. A few years ago my neighbours, who work for the ACT Govt, chopped down a massive tree – one of the biggest in my suburb – with no permission, claiming ignorance of the tree moratorium at the time. ACT Govt did absolutely nothing. One rule for some …

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