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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
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EvanJames 5:48 pm 03 Dec 10

Kan said :

My other half has just suggested to set up a webcam to broadcast the contents and the happenings of the sun room to the world! It would be all for a worthy cause – to annoy your weird and selfish neighbours.

Easy to do, and creative too. How awful to find this sunroom looming over your back yard but it seems to be the way ACTPLA do things. Even worse if the perpetrator is some large and wealthy entity.

Do a high fence, with vines (wisteria are good as they will grow out and grab onto anything they can find, like a sunroom, and proceed to wreck it) and while the vines are growing, make their sunroom a web study with 24-hour live webcam.

troll-sniffer 9:19 am 30 Nov 10

peterepete said :

…just adding rooms willy-nilly?

Is that a suggestion that the sunroom builders were eunuchs?

peterepete 8:41 am 30 Nov 10

Mass rioter action. I wonder what issue will be the first to get rioters mobilised? They obviously do not place any value on having a decent relationship with you – are they slumlords of the future just adding rooms willy-nilly?

Kan 11:15 pm 29 Nov 10

When is the nudie barbecue? Can’t wait. Your neighbours have strange taste in scenic views. From what I can gather – they like seeing an old fence, a dog, a barbie, the back of a house, possibly a clothesline and some vegetation. Oh and that’s right (coming soon) a bloke doing a nude parade. Very odd indeed.

My other half has just suggested to set up a webcam to broadcast the contents and the happenings of the sun room to the world! It would be all for a worthy cause – to annoy your weird and selfish neighbours.

Steve D 8:38 am 21 Nov 10

Hi Folks – You might find this information handy. It’s from the ACT Ombudsman’s Office Better Practice Guide to Complaint Handling. Mind you it is not exactly easy to find the guide. It actually lives on the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s site >>>


Our Better Practice Guide to Complaint Handling focuses on how government agencies can improve systems to deal with internal complaints and this has helped agencies to commit to effective complaint resolution. Many practical benefits result, which include better client relations, an enhanced reputation and more timely and consistent complaint handling.

To manage complaints well agencies need to integrate complaint handling into their core business. To do this we have identified five important elements:

culture: agencies must value complaints as a means of strengthening their administration and improving their relations with the public

principles: an effective complaint-handling system must be modelled on principles of fairness, accessibility, responsiveness, efficiency and integration

people: complaint-handling staff must be skilled and professional

process: the seven stages of complaint handling should be clearly outlined – acknowledgement, assessment, planning, investigation, response, review, and consideration of systemic issues

analysis: information about complaints should be examined as part of a continuous process of organisational review and improvement.
Skilled staff and good systems are major components for achieving effective results, along with adequate review procedures and quality assurance measures.

Steve D 8:02 am 21 Nov 10

Some great ideas folks. Impressive. Now to figure out what to do to regain privacy etc. A Christmas holiday project. In the nude of course.

I’m still going to go after the issues with ACTPLA and Minister Barr. If the buggers can do this to one household you can bet your bottom dollar they have done it before and will do so to others in the future. There’s no way we should have a system that does not even take into account privacy and, lets face it, good taste.

Honestly, should we have a government (from any party) that thinks it is OK for the public service they are responsible for to not listen to people, not even communicate and totally ignore the impact of developments like this. And on top of that for the Minister’s own office to simply play ‘hold the line’.

Slack legislation and slack delivery is what this smacks of. And it is Minister Barr who is responsible.

Let’s face it the ACT Government is really a local council. Other councils in the country put them to shame.

Cheers – Steve

ps. Be careful when you leave your home lest Barr’s Boys let someone start whacking up a monstrosity near you. We need a Barrometer to monitor government stupidity in this town.

JC 6:35 pm 20 Nov 10

JasonW1956 said :

Jethro said :

JasonW1956 said :

Thats pretty close to your neighbor but it seems to be more common these days.

The distance doesn’t look much different to what you’ll find in MacGregor

Take that back!! MacGregor has nice big blocks and some lovely houses.
West MacGregor on the other hand……

I take that all back, your right. WEST MacGregor!!

Nah West Macgregor is not a seperate suburb, so the correct thing to say would be the new part of Macgregor.

aronde 6:13 pm 20 Nov 10

Pandy said :

Let the Canberra Times know.

The Canberra Times will have already read this post and be on to it for a future edition – most likely without any acknowledgement of the source!

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