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Dickson residents declare victory

By johnboy - 31 January 2012 25

The Dickson Community Planning Alliance is celebrating a win in the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal:

Developers had planned to replace 2 houses with 10 units. The Tribunal confirmed that the
development violated a number of planning requirements and was inconsistent with the Territory Plan.

Ms Jane Goffman, a town planner and resident of Dickson, was a key organiser of the appeal. “This development threatened the long-term amenity and liveability of the area, which attracts a culturally diverse mix of household types, and that’s one of many positive features we want to safeguard. Very importantly, the approval initially given by the government violated its own planning laws.”

Wayne Sharwood, a local resident and barrister, led the appeal at the tribunal with assistance by Clare Carnell.

“The appeal demonstrated the difficulties for residents seeking constructive input to government decisions,” Ms Goffman said.

“Despite over 130 objections, the community was unfairly viewed by the planning authority as anti-development NIMBY neanderthals. But the Tribunal’s decision shows that the opposition was based on solid factual evidence. This approval should never have been granted and the community should not have been required to do the government’s job.”

The residents are calling for an easier planning system in future.

What’s Your opinion?


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25 Responses to
Dickson residents declare victory
Chop71 10:39 am 01 Feb 12

…. and then you go and cry about housing affordabilty.

EvanJames 10:26 am 01 Feb 12

For some reason, governments and even some citizens regard developers as some kind of species needing protection, that what they do is sacred.

Fact is, developers make money for themselves, and are completely un-interested in the effects their developments have on the people who have to live with them. They do not have our interests at heart. Governments are supposed to protect the citizens from people like this, but they don’t.

So kudos to these people for getting together and doing it themselves. Developers aren’t some altruistic entity that “nimbys” are preventing from doing good things.

54-11 10:19 am 01 Feb 12

bystander_effect said :

The applicants had a stack of objections, many of which were not upheld. I was aware they would make a claim about the development being “out of keeping” with the surrounds despite the technicalities of code compliance or otherwise…

So I guess it’s not a win to keep our old steetscapes, nor will it take much for a development like this to conform to the code and be approved (again). On the upside, well done to the applicants for putting in the hard yards to ensure developers and ACTPLA think twice about whether a proposal conforms to the required code. Amazing sufficient scrutiny wasn’t applied by ACTPLA after the first proposal for that site got knocked back (there were 144 objections to that).

I read it quite differently.

There were numerous contraventions of the “rules”, but as always, developers get the benefit of a bunch of far less onerous “criteria”. This is just a rare example of where residenrs are prepared to take the matter to the Tribunal, and many times they win. Many dozens of totally non-compliant developments simply go ahead.

For developers, it’s lose the odd one, but many more go ahead that are well otside the planning laws.

You say ACTPLA will think twice? Rubbish. They are simply doing the bidding of the government and developers – approving almost everything and anything, knowing that few people will go as far as the Dickson residents have. One reason for that is the stigma of ignorant people, many on RA, pulling out the NIMBY tag.

dtc 9:15 am 01 Feb 12

I have said it before, and as streetlover picked up, the losers with these massive developments (think about 10 units – its a solid wall across 2 blocks) are the nearby residents who have good quality homes and want to stay.

Lets assume your block is worth $400k and due to rezoning and development it increases to $500k.

If you have a crappy house on the block, originally you would sell for $500k and now you can sell for $600k.

If you have a good quality home, originally you perhaps could sell for $700k. But who wants to live in an area surrounded by large, visible, noisy (25+ people and cars) apartment blocks? So now your house is only worth $180k plus land value, you sell for $680k. Plus your rates increase and your quality of living decreases.

My view is that if an area is rezoned and you were living before the re-zoning, you should get some concession – perhaps reduced rates, perhaps reduced stamp duty if you buy a new house.

And remember that there are very few objections to people building dual or triple occupancies, or single story townhouses. Its these developments of 2 stories, overlooking yards, blocking sun etc, that cause the problem.

VYBerlinaV8_is_back 8:27 am 01 Feb 12

If this is the development I think it is, the ‘developer’ is a local guy and his brother. Hardly goliath!

Deref 7:38 am 01 Feb 12

Great to see one win among so many losses. Sadly, it’s only a win in a minor skirmish – the battle is being lost every day.

streetlover 6:28 am 01 Feb 12

Older houses in the area offer relatively low rents and are typically shared by groups of students. As Braddon leapfrogs across to Dickson and places are knocked down for blocks of units, rents go way up and students and other low income groups (teachers, apprentices, shift workers, you name it) are either forced to move further out or forced to take a mortgage they can little afford. Rents next door go up too and guess what – so do the rates. If what you end up living next door to is a substandard development you’re going to sell, but who’s going to buy? Not the family or the retired couple looking for somewhere quiet. Not the young professionals keen to renovate. You’re left with only two kinds of buyer. The developer and the speculator.

When 10 units and 20 car spaces are shoehorned onto a site that currently has only 2 houses and big gumtrees, you’ve got to wonder how it all fits on. The answer? By ramming it in and breaking a whole lot of rules that are there to protect future occupants and their neighbours. Surely every resident deserves a little bit of sun to sit outside and daydream and somewhere to store their bike?

Dickson residents told the gubamen from the start that they welcome higher densities in strategic locations: on a high speed public transport interchange, over shops, along Sullivans Creek – plus they’re happy with double or triple what’s in the area now mixed in with the older stuff which will change over time. Studios, granny flats, yurts, dual occys: all fine. But when the gubamen sees a profit to be made they start drooling and amnesia sets in. Quadrupling? Quintupling? Come on in boys, make yourselves at home, can we make things any easier for you fine cowboys?

When it suits this lot they’re quite happy to forget the rules and cover the place with concrete. They turned a blind eye when the old gumtrees got chopped down, they ignored over 130 letters of objection, they ignored the parking standards, solar access and energy efficiency rules, private open space minimums, side setback minimums, landscape buffer minimums, and a whole bunch more. They approved a development that was double what’s allowed under their own new rules sitting in front of the Assembly, which limit the number of units on a site this size to 5.

I say SHAME on them – the capital city of a young and inspiring democratic nation deserves much better planning by qualified trained professional planners, because everyone needs somewhere decent to live and a gubamen that lets this rubbish happen isn’t worthy of even half my child’s vote.

Bramina 11:47 pm 31 Jan 12

I just don’t get why this should be prohibited.

What are the costs to local residents? Some immediate neighbours might have people looking into their backyards (I’m unsure how much people value this privacy). While other resident’s might see the apartments occasionally as they drive or walk past, it isn’t clear that apartment should be so objectionable as to pose a substantial cost to them.

But if people could build apartments in Dickson, land prices would increase (because more residents on a block of land are able to pool greater finances). Local residents would probably be substantially better off.

As for the potential residents of the apartments – an additional 8 households can have the increased amenity of living near the city and other amenities. If people are willing to live in apartments will little or no open living space, then that is their choice. Perhaps they don’t even value open living space.

The local residents benefit, the people living in the apartments benefit. What’s the problem?

aussielyn 11:10 pm 31 Jan 12

Good win for the community who took on a most powerful development group with their five lawyers and consultant experts. Legal fees are a tax deduction for the developer. An anxious wait to find out if there will be an appeal. Appeals to ACAT on planning decisions are turning into very legalistic affairs that are beyond the means of ordinary citizens. A case last year cost the appellants $40K in legal fees! The lawyers are milking the planning appeal system, as the law gets more & more complex.

bystander_effect 9:28 pm 31 Jan 12

OK – so I skimmed through the 40 page appeal decision last night and whilst I am very happy that the appeal was successful, it wasn’t exactly a slam dunk.

Dissappointingly, the appeal’s success mostly rests on the lack of sufficient private open space for each unit on the plan (plus some other minor code breahes). All of this will no doubt be rectified by the developer and new plans submitted. Incremental improvement I suppose.

The applicants had a stack of objections, many of which were not upheld. I was aware they would make a claim about the development being “out of keeping” with the surrounds despite the technicalities of code compliance or otherwise. However, the Tribunal found that:
“The proposed development will not duplicate the existing development in the area, most of which dates from the 1960’s or thereabouts. But the differences are not so great that in themselves they would justify refusal to the development. Nor does the Tribunal agree that the built form or ‘bulk’ of the development when seen from the street is outside what is permissible in an Rz2 area”

So I guess it’s not a win to keep our old steetscapes, nor will it take much for a development like this to conform to the code and be approved (again). On the upside, well done to the applicants for putting in the hard yards to ensure developers and ACTPLA think twice about whether a proposal conforms to the required code. Amazing sufficient scrutiny wasn’t applied by ACTPLA after the first proposal for that site got knocked back (there were 144 objections to that).

miz 6:44 pm 31 Jan 12

This is fantastic – I hope people who continually label people affronted by crass development applications ‘NIMBYs’ are taking note.

I note, too, that the proposed development was approved despite being inconsistent with the govt’s own territory plan. Just goes to show how superficial and ‘lip service’ these sorts of plans are.

milkman 6:10 pm 31 Jan 12

Fair enough that we want to keep our old streetscapes, but let’s not whinge too much about lack of inner city housing.

Pork Hunt 6:03 pm 31 Jan 12

glad2bhere said :

Congratulations to david and his mates – goliath needs reminding that we’re not all dumb sheep to be herded to the slaughter

I’m not exactly certain where that bit is in the Bible (or Koran for that matter) but I’ll take your word for it…

devils_advocate 6:00 pm 31 Jan 12

I always look at some of the inner north developments going up “these days” and wonder how they hell they conform with the planning laws. Guess they don’t.

The barrister’s point is well made re: the residents having to step in and do the ACT gubment’s job for them (no doubt at great financial cost and inconvenience to themselves!)

glad2bhere 5:47 pm 31 Jan 12

Congratulations to david and his mates – goliath needs reminding that we’re not all dumb sheep to be herded to the slaughter

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