19 November 2007

So its time to be a Nimby

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Okay, so the neighbours have just got a nice yellow ACTPLA sign in their yard, indicating an application for quite a significant change to the title/lease, and to put up some units. Having had a look at the plans, a few of us neighbours are a little unhappy, and in true Nimby fashion are looking to write an objection.

Has anyone done this sort of thing before, and can share some pointers. Is it worthwhile writing the objections as a combined effort between the residents, or individual ones for each neighbour. Are there professionals that assist (and help get better results) or is it best to just do it alone. Does ACTPLA want a point by point argument using the guidelines of the Territory Plan, or do heartfelt comments work better?

Any help?

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“Cry me a river.”

No, I think you need planning approval for that too.

plane, I agree with you – development does need to be done in a planned and managed way (otherwise we’ll end up with a complete mess of a city). And it truly would be a shame to spoil areas that give Canberra its unique appeal.

I assume then that the development you’re facing is imposing a negative externality at the expense of your area.

I wish you the best. If you are totally objective and precise in your measures/arguments then your chances will increase and your stress levels will probably be better for it.


i agree with you in part. The city and its suburbs need to adpat and change. We do need to increase the desnity in ceratin parts, and provide a vibrancy to other areas.

However, those changes need to be done in a way that complements and enhances the city. Just because a particular unit design works in Braddon, does not mean that it will work in outer suburbs. Things like setback, building envelopes, traffic management, streetscape need to be considered on an individual locality basis.

I just want to make sure that new developments are not at teh expense of our area.

Thanks all, I have certainly done a whole lot of reading, both with ACTPLA related material, the AAT proceedings and advice from some architects and associated professionals.

I am quite aware that our submission will need top be based on facts, and criteria. Had a chat to a few other neighours tonight, and everyone is pretty up on that idea. We all have a few concerns, some in common with other, some not, and so will progress down the objection path.

Hopefully our objections will be realistic- we certainly aren’t enterring in to this as a “no, no ,no way” approach. There are some significant problems with the design, but if they can be adjusted and corrected, then as a whole we won’t be too upset.

Once again thanks for the assiatnce so far. From here we continue the research; follow up on contacts with the local community council (already started before posting this question), continue reading up on planning guidelines etc…


Take the advice from Jonathon & Al, you have a lot of learning to do and the clock is ticking
Remember that the development lobby writes the Territory plan and so you have very few rights as a neighbour. The multi unit development must comply with the land use and codes. Many times they will push the boundaries and get away with it because the assessor is pushed to approve it. Get the street involved because inadequate parking will mean that it will be full of cars that the development will generate.
The plans on the website are not accurate, get the plans from ACTPLA and get an architect to go over them to find plot ratio, set backs etc.
Send me an email – aussielyn@optusnet.com.au and I will send you some submissions that ONCC Inc (Narrabundah) has forwarded

el ......VNBerlinaV86:53 pm 20 Nov 07

Cry me a river.

it is easy to say you are happy about development as a renter who can just move on to the next place.

Once you have committed yourself to buy you are pretty much stuck for a decade or so due to transaction costs, and longer if the value of your place goes down (due to development etc).

Once you have taken the massive step of committing to a place, and imagining yourself and your family staying there for life, it is hard to take when the developers move in.

Gungahlin Al5:12 pm 20 Nov 07

Plane: a lot of good advice here.

I would add to contact your local Community Council for assistance/guidance. You’ll find contact details for all of them under Links on our Gungahlin website http://www.gcc.asn.au

It’s probably an appropriate place to mention that the new Territory Plan when gazetted next March should make it a lot easier for residents to write submissions/objections.

The new structure will separate Code and Merit assessment tracks. And then you’ll be able to focus just on those aspects in the Merit Criteria with your objection – the Code Criteria will be essentially quantitative facets – they are either met or not, and if they are met then you can’t object to that aspect of the DA.

This is a key reason why we’ve been putting so much effort into the draft stage of the Territory Plan review – through the GCC submission and on Minister Barr’s Reference Panel – so the rules are better in the first place.

The redrafted Territory Plan is out for the final round of consultation right now and it closes on 7 December.

Wait till they build it – then burn it down?

OpenYourMind22:38 pm 20 Nov 07

S4anta, you don’t know how many people I’ve seen go down having such an attitude. You have to remember the public servant is getting paid to uphold a rule or whatever, eventually they’ll move onto another job and most likely won’t have invested much emotional energy into the whole thing. On the other side, I’ve seen people put the heart and soul into an argument with a department and even if they win their little battle, it’s at an immense personal cost.

just did a similar exercise myself. Am yet to hear the outcome, but from my experience, it is definitely important to know what you’re talking about. So ‘it’s a nice quiet street’ definitely won’t work, but quoting the Territory Plan regarding the maximum plot ratio, overshadowing, vehicle access, setbacks from your boundary will work, although primarily if you can prove that the plans as they are presented are in conflict with the clauses you’ve identified.

It’s not about hating development but people are still entitled to a reasonable level of quality of life and that’s what the planning controls are there for. If they aren’t used properly then people should be entitled to contribute their views.

Good luck.

A similar case might be DANIEL/PRIOR AND ACT PLANNING & LAND AUTHORITY & ANOR [2006] ACTAAT 16 (30 MAY 2006)(at http://www.courts.act.gov.au), where the neighbours successfully appealed against approval for a seven-unit development in Weetangera. They ran a variety of arguments, many of which were dismissed by the court – that may give you a good idea of what to focus on.
That development has now been approved as a four-unit plan (see CROWN HOLDINGS NO. 2 PTY LTD AND ACT PLANNING & LAND AUTHORITY [2007] ACTAAT 22 (22 OCTOBER 2007) – it may be you can only achieve a partial change to the plans rather than outright rejection of the proposal.


Check out the ACTPLA website, read what it has to say. Structure your arguements in a bipartisan, clear and concise matter, and you should be sweet.

If it gets a bit over you, just say to yourself ‘i can outwit this f**king public servant’.

Works everytime.

It’s kinda hard when on one hand we have people complaining about high housing prices, but people don’t want the areas they live in developed further. Of course, everyone would like to live in a street with quarter acre blocks, trees that meet over the street and no units for miles. Which is why these suburbs have million dollar properties in them.

Unless there’s a compelling reason to stop the development, get out of the way and let them do their thing. (Then find out how it went and see if you can do it too).

Jonathon Reynolds8:29 am 20 Nov 07

sorry, “decreased views from your house” is generally not a valid grounds for objection.

Go check some of the cases that went to the ACT AAT (Administrative Appeals Tribunal), it will give you some insight in to what issues are likely to have any real weight (especially if they are similar to your own circumstances)


captainwhorebags8:21 am 20 Nov 07

danny: I agree with the sentiment of what you’ve written. I prefer my own block, but can see the appeal of medium density townhouse/unit style living, particularly if it creates a vibrant atmosphere around a suburban shopping centre (although the top end of town, Yarralumla is an excellent example).

If the objection is lodged because of simple nimbyism “it was a nice quiet street and we don’t want any more people here” then I think it should be thrown out.

Look for unarguable legitimate concerns, such as decreased views from your house, over shadowing due to multilevel development, increased parking burden on the street, etc etc. Base your objection on facts and avoid emotional concerns.

You should address each of the relevant considerations under a separate heading.

Use evidence to support each of your claims.

Be clinical in your approach, don’t be emotive.

I’m not aiming to troll with this comment, I’m actually interested in your thoughts on this subject

I spent a fair proportion of my life living in a Canberra suburb that over the past ten years has changed dramatically. Much of the suburb that was once single dwelling is now medium density units. Even though I had to move out a few times since my place went under the hammer (and inevitably the wrecking ball) I still don’t view the development as a bad thing.

The suburb is growing/changing/evolving, people are moving in, there is more of a pulse there now then there ever was (and that is one of the more often quoted issues outsiders have with our fine City – it lacks a pulse). Countless jobs and industries were supported by the development in the suburb which is a good thing isn’t it? True, the large front yards with sprinklers over summer are gone but they have been replaced with some pretty tidy buildings.

I can’t comment on the problem you are facing since you haven’t mentioned what suburb it is, after all you may be right, the particular development you’re facing could be completely inappropriate. But what are people’s thoughts on the idea that a city needs to grow in order to stay alive? Without it wouldn’t you have an ageing population that stayed put and a suburb that wouldn’t change? Wouldn’t it eventually stagnate in areas as the elderly became unable to perform the upkeep? This would cause the city to continue to sprawl and successive generations would be forced further and further out.

I’ve never really had the opportunity to listen to those on the NIMBY side yet so I really would like to hear your thoughts on why you view such unit developments negatively.

Jonathon Reynolds12:10 am 20 Nov 07

As per what Pickle has indicated…

However you also need to consider the proponents application in conjunction with any applicable (including draft) guidelines that may also be in force.

Remember, just as you have the right to object to a particular development where you feel it may be inappropriate, the proponent has the right to develop in accordance to what the lease conditions, territory plan, special zoning exemptions/considerations and appropriate guidelines dictate or allow. It helps to be a constructive NIMBY rather than a NIMBY for NIMBY sake.

Don’t waste your time if the submission would be ignored under 3rd party appeal provisions.

Go have a look at some of the (older) submission work I was previously involved in with the Gungahlin Community Council:


Study this:

and especially stuff like this:

Address it like a public service selection criteria for a job, you will soon figure out for yourself if you have a hope of fighting it

I’ve been on the receiving end of an organised opposition to a renovation. Still a house, not dual occy/apartments etc.

The objectors, organised by the ACT chairman of the Flat Earth Society, put in an omnibus claim, covering change of streetscape, loss of heritage value, loss of view, loss of greenery, and more.

Their claim was dismissed completely, but they had good enough connections to organise a meet with the then Minister in charge of Palm/ACTPLA whatever.
I believe that word went down that our plan had to be absolutely correct to gain approval. End result was an encroachment over a boundary of 900mm was deemed totally unacceptable, and our plans rejected.

Moral of the story – Your claims will be thoroughly examined, and only very valid claims will get up. However, political contacts can assist.

From the ACTPLA website “If you feel the application may affect you in any way and wish to object, you must lodge a written objection clearly stating the grounds for objection. However, you may also provide comments in support of the application.”

I would think you would have to give specific and detailed reasons as to why the development should not be approved, not just “I don’t want them to build it next door to my place”

I’m sure dot points would work as well as anything else, on how it would effect your property, the street or traffic etc..

I guess you could get professionals to help, but you’re the one outlaying the money for the surveyors etc, if it was my money I would only invest it if I had really good grounds to support my case.

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