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Government under fire for failing to enforce own development regulations

By Ian Bushnell 20 October 2017 9

The ACT Government has been accused of failing to enforce its own planning and development regulations – leading to tensions in mixed-use developments, continuing building defects and design breaches.

At recent public meeting organised by the Inner South Canberra Community Council, Government officials – including Director-General of the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development directorate Ben Ponton and Deputy Director-General, Access Canberra, Dave Peffer – were assailed by a barrage of complaints about ground-floor Kingston Foreshore restaurants, ongoing unit defects and fait accompli planning outcomes.

The Government is considering building regulatory and strata management reforms but is coming under pressure from the property industry to announce draft legislation.

Owners Corporation Network Gary Petherbridge said mixed-use development was the new disaster in town with Kingston tenants and unit owners in foreshore apartments having to share lifts with restaurants that were using basement car parks as food and equipment storage areas.

He said prawn heads and other foodstuffs in the lifts were a common sight.

“You’ve got places that were nominated as car parking places for a tenant or owner and they’ve turned those into freezer rooms, with gas bottles, refrigeration, and no proper exhausts. Everything that you could think of that could cause a fire,” he said.

Deakin Residents Association president Dr George Wilson, who also attended the meeting, said the restaurants didn’t have a licence to use these spaces but they had all this equipment in car parks that are supposed to be there for residents.

Mr Petherbridge said Access Canberra “should be saying this is not allowed, get rid of it”.

Mr Ponton said the issues of mixed use development and strata titles were complex and not an easy fix, while Mr Peffer said the problem was when building uses changed and not all technical breaches could be dealt with.

Mr Petherbridge also said building defects were out of control in Canberra, with developers ignoring recently issued Government guidelines.

He feared many apartments and townhouses would not last as long as their mortgages and called for stronger legislation so there could be genuinely independent building certification.

He also said the Government should be prepared to name and shame builders who flouted the rules.

“The Government isn’t prepared to list them as people you ought to consider twice about buying from. They should start listing the people who are in court,” he said.

Mr Petherbridge predicted that in two or three years there could be a tsunami of complaints from the building boom as more apartments and units in Canberra begin to have issues such as leaks, cracked concrete and glass falling out of windows.

Dr Wilson said he knew of instances where minor breaches had been overlooked which in turn had led to a development outcome with many more.

“You can’t have regulation and turn a blind eye to it because it’s politically difficult to enforce it or you interpret as a minor breach – that’s a job for a magistrate not a so-called inspection agency,” he said.

Mr Peffer, told the meeting that the Government was identifying underperforming builders and would inspect them more often.

He said the budget had allocated funds for six additional building auditors to allow more on-site inspections and an audit of private certification was planned.

He said building code examinations for builders would improve quality in the system.

Mr Petherbridge said the complaints in the inner south would be replicated at any community council meeting in Canberra.

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9 Responses to
Government under fire for failing to enforce own development regulations
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ChrisinTurner 5:12 pm 26 Oct 17

Ignition of the flammable aluminium cladding in Melbourne was caused in part by having flammable objects like washing on the verandahs.

Maya123 7:41 pm 23 Oct 17

Maryann Mussared said :

Lucy Baker said :

Maryann Mussared said :

…..and the seemingly unsolvable issue of washing on the balcony.

I agree re cooking smells but – how does someone’s washing on a balcony affect you? Far more responsible on the part of your neighbours than using a tumble drier!

I couldn’t live where I couldn’t hang out my washing, but most apartment blocks ban the drying of washing on balconies and generally don’t provide shared drying areas. Even if they do provide drying areas, they aren’t used because things get nicked. However, obviously enforcement of the ‘no washing’ rule is another thing. Inevitably washing and other assorted possessions on balconies – many with glass balustrades – affects the streetscape. Look up next time you are in an area of high density..

“Look up next time you are in an area of high density..”

I do and I am very impressed when I see washing out, as it means those people aren’t using driers. Not blight on the landscape for me.

I thought though that the body corporates can no longer stop people from hanging out washing. Or has this got no further than discussion.

HiddenDragon 6:20 pm 23 Oct 17

Maryann Mussared said :

Lucy Baker said :

Maryann Mussared said :

…..and the seemingly unsolvable issue of washing on the balcony.

I agree re cooking smells but – how does someone’s washing on a balcony affect you? Far more responsible on the part of your neighbours than using a tumble drier!

I couldn’t live where I couldn’t hang out my washing, but most apartment blocks ban the drying of washing on balconies and generally don’t provide shared drying areas. Even if they do provide drying areas, they aren’t used because things get nicked. However, obviously enforcement of the ‘no washing’ rule is another thing. Inevitably washing and other assorted possessions on balconies – many with glass balustrades – affects the streetscape. Look up next time you are in an area of high density..

It’s a bit surprising that a Government which is so concerned about the environment has not yet re-considered the issue of drying of laundry on balconies – even when we truly get to 100% renewable energy, there’s still an environmental cost in artificial drying. On a related point, it is striking to see how few recently constructed dwellings, including those which have a private yard or courtyard, have a laundry which opens directly onto that space, or is very close to a door which does. Also, if our planners are so keen on the “colour” and “vibrancy” of more densely populated cities overseas, laundry fluttering publicly in the breeze should be part of that rich tapestry!

On the broader issues raised by this post, there seems to be an epic contrast between the over-the-top requirements for paperwork, and public airing of such, for developments and even major renovations and the subsequent implementation and enforcement of what is set out in such paperwork. If it’s not going to be enforced, why go through the elaborate, time-consuming sham? – but (far) better still, have a reasonably rigorous planning stage and then provide the resources and the powers to ensure that what is planned and approved actually happens.

Maryann Mussared 4:11 pm 23 Oct 17

Lucy Baker said :

Maryann Mussared said :

…..and the seemingly unsolvable issue of washing on the balcony.

I agree re cooking smells but – how does someone’s washing on a balcony affect you? Far more responsible on the part of your neighbours than using a tumble drier!

I couldn’t live where I couldn’t hang out my washing, but most apartment blocks ban the drying of washing on balconies and generally don’t provide shared drying areas. Even if they do provide drying areas, they aren’t used because things get nicked. However, obviously enforcement of the ‘no washing’ rule is another thing. Inevitably washing and other assorted possessions on balconies – many with glass balustrades – affects the streetscape. Look up next time you are in an area of high density..

sportsmum 11:28 am 23 Oct 17

gazket said :

I work construction . The Architects have a lot to answer as I see heaps of low par construction designs pretty much with design faults, but thats what they want so they get it. .

How can an architect be responsible for the poor work of construction companies?

Lucy Baker 10:09 pm 21 Oct 17

Maryann Mussared said :

…..and the seemingly unsolvable issue of washing on the balcony.

I agree re cooking smells but – how does someone’s washing on a balcony affect you? Far more responsible on the part of your neighbours than using a tumble drier!

Maryann Mussared 12:14 pm 21 Oct 17

The worst holiday I ever had was in a high-rise on the Sunshine Coast. On the ground level was a pizza restaurant and an Asian restaurant, cooking long into the night. We were unable to use the balconies nor sleep with the windows open because of the cooking smells and the noise. I don’t care what anyone says about mixed-use developments, indeed any apartment block – choosing to live in one comes with a whole range of issues including second-hand cigarette smoke, inconsiderate use of mobile phones, and the seemingly unsolvable issue of washing on the balcony.

dungfungus 7:51 am 21 Oct 17

Our own Paul Costigan was onto this problem 2 years ago: https://the-riotact.com/canberra-tales-as-your-building-sinks-get-out/153465

gazket 4:23 pm 20 Oct 17

I work construction . The Architects have a lot to answer as I see heaps of low par construction designs pretty much with design faults, but thats what they want so they get it. .

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