Neighbours of 11 Addison Road are distraught. They have witnessed first-hand how the State Government Development Regulations favour development over trees.
The owner of 11 Addison Road applied for development approval some time ago now to convert his single house into 4 new houses. He is perfectly and legally entitled to do this. Everyone has the right to redevelop their property. Any proposed development however must not be seriously at variance with the Development plan operating in that neighbourhood to be approved.
To achieve his goal, he needed approval also to subdivide the land. The redevelopment also required the removal of a magnificent lemon Scented gum.
Processing of the application has stalled. I believe this was due to two widespread concerns. The extent to which the development does not comply with the zoning, and the loss of the tree.
Neighbours to the development were and remain united in their opposition. If I am right, I believe Council’s planner was also of a similar view. I certainly share their views. Accordingly, I mentored them in their representations and stood prepared to speak on their behalf in front of the Assessment Panel.
To address this opposition and to eliminate the removal of the tree as a barrier, he submitted a subsequent development application. An application focused on the tree.
The application was lodged on the premise that the retaining of the tree is a hindrance to the reasonable redevelopment of the property.
Once again, this is a perfectly legal approach. As the State Government Development Regulations favour development over trees, he was able to approach it this way.
This approach must be assessed by delegation to a Council Planning Officer rather than go to the Council Assessment Panel. It is an approach that avoids public scrutiny.
The initial application for tree removal did not provide sufficient evidence to warrant approval. Subsequent updating of the application however has now prompted a development approval. With this by default an approval to subdivide the property into 4 allotments.
As much as the neighbours have been frustrated by this, I am sure the process will have frustrated the property owner. It will be interesting therefore to see what he does now. He has multiple options.
He could now resubmit the original application knowing he has subdivision approval and likewise approval to remove the tree. Alternatively, he could decide (considering evidence that his proposal may be seriously at variance to the plan and the commencement of the new State Planning Code) to submit a fresh application.
Another option he might also consider is selling the property. The subdivision approval he now has will have seen the value of his property escalate. With the struggles he has had with the system and not being a developer, this last option may be his best option. For him.
Time will tell.