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All Barr None – Urban Planning in the ACT

By Steve D - 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.

What’s Your opinion?


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

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.

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2
ConanOfCooma 11:00 am
19 Nov 10
#

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!

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3
jimbocool 11:01 am
19 Nov 10
#

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.

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4
DeadlySchnauzer 11:04 am
19 Nov 10
#

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.

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5
2.0 11:11 am
19 Nov 10
#

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)

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

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.

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7
AngryHenry 11:23 am
19 Nov 10
#

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?

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8
Furry Jesus 11:35 am
19 Nov 10
#

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?)

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9
carnardly 11:41 am
19 Nov 10
#

I like your doberdog.

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10
Bluenomi 11:44 am
19 Nov 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….

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11
sepi 11:54 am
19 Nov 10
#

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.

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

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’.

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13
Hank 12:08 pm
19 Nov 10
#

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

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14
Keijidosha 12:29 pm
19 Nov 10
#

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.

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15
watto23 12:34 pm
19 Nov 10
#

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.

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