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South West Architects Lament Dunsborough Planning Policy

South West Architects Lament Dunsborough Planning Policy

A two storey luxury Dunsborough architect designed beach house along Geographe Bay Road, currently being designed by south west architects; Threadgold Architecture, highlights the counter productive nature of the City of Busselton’s residential development policy.

The City of Busselton residential development policy sets the discussion for the Dunsborough architect designed beach house between the City’s town planners and south west architect.  The details within the residential development policy place unreasonable and onerous demands on Dunsborough property owners along Geographe Bay Road.

The City of Busselton statutory planning manager has advised Threadgold Architecture that the residential development policy is due for review in September/October 2016.  The news of an imminent redrafting of the City of Busselton’s planning policy should come as welcome relief for Busselton, Dunsborough, Geographe or Quindalup property owners in addition to south west architects and building designers. The residential development policy not only has the effect of devaluing property prices along Geographe Bay Road but also lacks a practical common sense approach to building design – effectively thrusting more cost on Busselton, Dunsborough, Geographe or Quindalup property owners along Geographe Bay Road.  It seems common sense isn’t so common these days?

As a student of architecture, a professor of architecture once said to me, “…building design is a negotiated outcome…”  so south west architects and building designers should breathe a collective sigh of relief that the City’s negotiating position at development approval stage will shift somewhat upon the re-drafting of the residential development policy.  The residential development policy is set for review by the manager of statutory planning in September/October 2016 and then requires Council approval.

If one is considering a property purchase in Busselton, Dunsborough, Geographe or Quindalup along Geographe Bay Road; one should first consider the ramifications of the residential development policy for the house design – as they say, “…the devil is in the detail…”   In accord with section 5.2 of the residential development policy, coastal setbacks for beach house designs over 5 metres in height are required to have a 50% greater setback as stipulated by the R Codes.  The Dunsborough architect beach house, currently being designed by Threadgold Architecture, forfeits a staggering 181 square metres of the development site to the northern front planning setback.  Losing this portion of a house development site is painful when considers the land cost of a Busselton, Dunsborough, Geographe or Quindalup development site along Geographe Bay Road development site is northwards of $1M.

The lack of common sense doesn’t end there.  The residential development policy gives no consideration that almost all Busselton, Dunsborough, Geographe or Quindalup properties along Geographe Bay Road properties are low lying with an Australian Height Datum marginally above sea level, as section B3.2.7 limits south west architects and building designers to a maximum of 450mm clean compacted fill above natural ground level.  This section of the residential development policy places Busselton, Dunsborough, Geographe or Quindalup property owners along Geographe Bay Road  at risk of storm surge and tsunami’s with the majority of major home insurers unwilling to insure against these risks within an insurance policy.

Limiting south west architects and building designers to 450mm clean compacted fill ensures house designs along Geographe Bay Road are effected by the high water table should they desire a below ground pool.  Interception of the water table, which is typically at approx. 1.2m depth below natural ground level along Geographe Bay Road, places additional significant building costs for de-watering and building structure on the Geographe Bay Road property owners.

Further, section B3.2.10 of the residential development policy restricts Busselton, Dunsborough, Geographe or Quindalup beach house designs by requiring swimming pools, sun rooms, tennis courts and outdoor decks to be setback from the southern rear boundary.  This section is directly contradicts the energy efficiency measures of the Building Code of Australia and should cause south west architects and building designers much lamentation.  The only architects who should be locating a sun room on the southern side of a house should be northern hemisphere based!  Locating a sun room on the south side of a house is completely counterproductive.  Equally, placing a swimming pool on the southern side of a house would guarantee complete shade most of the calendar year and energy bills to heat the swimming pool that only Trump could pay.  Access to direct northern sunlight is an imperative to Busselton, Dunsborough, Geographe or Quindalup beach properties and limiting access to northern sunlight through planning policy is fractious.

The objectives outlined within the residential development policy for coastal setbacks seem to be a tenuous justification for the onerous provisions placed on Busselton, Dunsborough, Geographe or Quindalup property owners along Geographe Bay Road.  One must question whether the City engaged an environmental engineer prior to drafting this residential planning policy?  Fortunately, the strategic planner responsible for this planning policy now resides in state government employ.

Photo: south west architects beach house designed with northern aspect swimming pool located within the nine metre beachside setback.

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