Roundup: Complicit or compliant?


A story in the SMH last week about the relaxation of planning laws explains how new rules about ‘complying developments’ will make it easier to build townhouses and small unit blocks (or “Manor Houses”) without much in the way of planning approval at all.

The story – an opinion piece, really – has raised a lot of comments, some of them pretty heated, as you will see if you scroll down to the bottom.

But the townhouse and so-called Manor House scenario brings it right into our territory, reminding me of a complying development in an apartment block not a million miles from where I sit.

Currently, council rules say that changing the room configuration of an apartment must have a DA.
But an owner wanted to remove his third bedroom so that he could have bigger parties in his lounge (his own words).

His extended party room would now be next to another flat’s bedroom and above and below the main bedrooms of his upstairs and downstairs neighbours.

Talking about compliant development, that brings us to the first of this week’s questions on the Flat Chat forum.

  • Can an owner split a room without council or owners corp permission? THAT’S HERE and HERE.
  • Can I point a security camera at my own car? THAT’S HERE.
  • Who pays to paint the outside of an individual owner’s extension?  THAT’S HERE.
  • Who can we get to do an acoustic flooring test? THAT’S HERE.
  • How long do we have to hang on to strata committee ballot papers? THAT’S HERE.

And there are a lot more tricky questions and answers in the Flat Chat Forum. 

Possibly aided by the fact that he was a big wheel in Real Estate, he had no trouble getting a certifier to say this was a complying development.

Once that happened, council had to go along with it, and the owners corporation had to accept the council position – just like they had to deal with complaints about noisy parties from all those directly and indirectly affected.

A complaint to council planning was met with the response: ‘Take it up with the certifier … it has nothing to do with us.’

As I said in my online comment on the SMH story, my point is that you can have as many rules as you like but there will always someone who looks at the penalties (if any) and the chances of being caught (ditto) before they even think of their neighbours.

As the original piece says, Sydney is littered with buildings that are clearly non-compliant in any real sense but yet managed to get some sort of approval.

Oh, and just wait till the six units in the complying “Manor House” are turned into Airbnb lets in the summer and overcrowded student flats in the winter.

I wonder where your compliant certifiers will be then?

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