20 March 2024

Bedrooms without windows: Planning Authority rejects 730-unit development in Braddon

| Ian Bushnell
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An artist’s impression of how the development would look. Design issues and trees were the main sticking points.

An artist’s impression of how the development would look. Design issues and trees were the main sticking points. Photo: Cox Architecture.

The ACT Planning Authority has knocked back JWLand’s proposed massive mixed-use development in Braddon that would have added 730 dwellings to the Northbourne Avenue corridor.

The proposal fell down on key design issues and the number of trees that would have been bulldozed.

The $158 million Braddon Place proposal next to Haig Park was originally going to add 602 units and 239 hotel rooms across six buildings to the inner north, as well as restaurants and commercial tenancies, but the hotel component was dropped in March 2023, in favour of 128 build-to-rent units.

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The Notice of Decision said the proposal failed to meet requirements of the National Capital Plan by including bedrooms without windows, ‘snorkel’ style windows, and insufficient shading to west-facing windows.

The proposal was also a significant departure from that presented to the National Capital Design Review Panel (NCDRP), with a large courtyard replaced by a central pedestrian path and smaller internal courtyards, a rooftop communal space removed and greater density.

Advice about the need for high-quality landscaping for such a large residential population was not followed, with the landscaping compromised by increased driveway areas and the extent of covered areas within the courtyard spaces.

The panel also raised sustainability concerns, the reliance on unshaded glazing to the west and the low provision of three-bedroom apartments.

Of the 602 residential apartments proposed, only three or 0.5 per cent have 3-bedroom dwellings, breaching the Multi Unit Housing Code which requires developments with more than 40 dwellings to contain a combination of dwelling types.

The Planning Authority considered the proponent’s response to the NCDRP design advice as unsatisfactory.

The Conservator of Flora and Fauna could not support the proposal because a number of regulated and high-quality trees would have been removed.

The NDCRP had also advised that it would be beneficial if the 72 mature trees remaining on the site after the demolition of the Northbourne Flats were retained.

“Despite advice including that ‘total clear felling of trees across the site is not supported by the panel’, the proposal ignored that advice and removes all trees from the site and several trees from the Henty Street verge,” the decision said.

A lack of visitor parking was also an issue, with only 12 provided when 151 spaces were required for the 602 apartments.

It was also unclear how the basement visitor spaces would be accessed or how security for residential carparking or storage would be maintained, the decision said.

The Environment Protection Authority also canned the proposal, over a lack of noise management.

The decision also said the proposal did not encourage a standard of urban design consistent with the site’s location on a major avenue and approach route.

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The National Capital Authority had also raised concerns about building separation, the location of building entries, habitable rooms without windows, solar access, ventilation, and landscaping.

These issues were largely addressed through subsequent amendments, but several issues remained.

Comment was sought from JWLand.

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Sometimes I wonder if they pitch a bad plan on purpose so the questionable plan goes through easily…
bedrooms without windows? Everyone complains
Bedrooms with windows and another ugly apartment… and everyone is happy?

Amanda Kiley9:38 pm 21 Mar 24

Absolutely they do – mostly it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I have seen, time and again, outrageous DA’s submitted with the developer’s plan that a watered down version will go through easily. There is even a loop hole that the developer doesn’t need further community consultation if their watered down version is sufficient – see the very objected, twice dismissed, but now very active KFC at Gold Creek Village. Our planning department is an absolute joke.

I still think the rules on what developers can build needs to go further. Push them so every apartment needs a minimum 9sq meter balcony, because having a private outdoor space is vital for the mental and physical health of residents. Then legislate the need for solar (min per unit), water storage, electric vehicle charging etc. These guys are making bank on apartments because people can’t afford houses, so force them to make them better for the residents.

Fantastic that the relevant agencies actually stood up and applied the rules and knocked back the ambit claim proposal.

The fact that JWLand tried to bulldoze every tree, have bedrooms without windows, and only 12 visitor parking spots when 151 spaces were required is a graphic illustration of why community groups have so little faith in developers.

Unlike YIMBY groups like “Greater Canberra who act like anything that slows down developers bringing supply to the market is bad.

Such blatant disregard by JWLand of requirements — and commonsense.

JWLand needs to get its goal right: Not to maximise profit but to build for better living. Not only should bedrooms have windows, but also should bathrooms where sunlight is essential to keep them mould-free. Vetilation fans just don’t cut it, and they often don’t last long and are difficult to fix.

Another thing that needs to draw people’s attention urgently is a general lack of requirement in noise prevention. The problem is particularly bad in mixed-living blocks, where noises originated from commercial activities in early morning and late evening can drive people mad. Those leaf blowers really should be banned!

So JWLand puts forward a plan with bedrooms having no windows…even prisons do better than that.


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