The planning authority’s emphatic knockback of POD Projects Group’s development application for a 123-unit apartment complex in Coombs on a block zoned for only 40 is being seen as significant victory for the community and a message to developers to stay within the rules.
The Notice of Decision for Block 4 Section 39, on the corner of Arthur Blakely Way and Colbung Street, cites multiple reasons – such as overdevelopment and overshadowing of neighbours – to refuse the application, which included a bid for a lease variation that would have more than tripled the dwelling limit.
The DA, lodged only a week after a hostile community meeting with the proponents last November, prompted 101 objections from people concerned at the developer cramming so many units on the site, the small size of the units, the lack of green space, and the overshadowing on neighbouring homes from the five to seven storeys proposed.
It was the latest in a string of projects requesting a lease variation to cater for an increased number of dwellings, and followed the Zapari development, also in Coombs, which attracted a record 400 representations, and the Luxe apartments in Wright.
In what could be seen as a warning to other developers hoping to maximise yield by seeking to increase the dwelling limit, the Notice of Decision said the proposed development failed to meet a high standard of residential amenity, particularly with the density proposed and the closeness between dwellings on the site and to neighbouring properties.
It said the scale and bulk of the proposal in particular meant that it failed to make a positive contribution to the neighbourhood and the character of the area.
“The impacts associated with the proposed development, will contribute to unreasonable and unnecessary negative impacts on neighbouring properties such as overshadowing and overlooking,” it said.
The site was deemed unsuitable for such a large development, which the planning authority feared would have a negative impact on future development in the Molonglo Valley.
The application did not take into account potential environmental impacts such as overshadowing, interface with adjacent properties, and the likely traffic to be generated, with two levels of basement parking also proposed.
It also breached the Territory Plan in several areas including the number of storeys, insufficient setback, lack of solar access for residents and neighbours, insufficient open space, lack of space for deep-rooted trees and privacy concerns for residents and neighbours.
“It is furthermore noted that the height of the building, and the scale of the proposed development will restrict the future amenity of residents on neighbouring blocks and is likely to have a detrimental impact on future residents of the proposed development,” the decision said.
“The assessment of the proposal furthermore concluded that the amenity of the future residents within the block and residents on surrounding blocks will be restricted as a result of the proposed layout, scale and siting of the buildings within the block. The density, scale and layout also restrict the possibility of achieving a sufficiently high standard of residential amenity that is generally expected on land zoned RZ5 High Density Residential.”
Molonglo community member Ryan Hemsley said he was very pleased to see that the concerns of local residents were being heard, and that the rules in the Territory Plan were being enforced by the ACT Planning Directorate.
“As the Notice of Decision states, this building violated a huge number of rules and would have been incredibly damaging to the amenity of future residents within the development and those who lived nearby. I am honestly surprised that it even got to this stage of the planning assessment process,” he said.
“I hope that the comprehensive rejection of this development by both local residents and the ACT Planning Directorate sends a message to future developers that we won’t simply roll over and accept rule-violating developments being thrown up in our neighbourhood.”
He expected the Zapari development in Coombs to meet a similar fate, saying both developers should go back to the drawing board and come back to the community with proposals that actually adhere to the rules.