Development causes Weston Creek community to feel overlooked

Defence Housing Australia’s new estate Featherston Ridge at Weston. Photo: Jamila Toderas

The Weston Creek Community Council is disappointed by the approval of a 21-dwelling medium density development planned for Featherston Ridge in Weston.

The $7.7 million Bellette Street project is proposed for a block within the Defence Housing Australia estate sold to private developers in mid-2015.

Public submissions on the plans took issue with the 7.6 metre building height and the loss of privacy with unit balconies overlooking homes on the opposite side of Heyson Street.

The council has questioned the ACT Planning and Land Authority about the decision.

Council chairman Tom Anderson said it was the first time the council had sought a clarification of the terms of any development approval.

He said there was no adequate explanation of how the proposed units would not impinge on the privacy of adjoining dwellings in the notice of decision issued on January 13.

“It said ‘it was revealed that the upper level balconies and the window are well over 12 metres and do not form a direct line of sight’,” he said.

“That might make sense to planners, but the average person is left thinking 12 metres of what?”

An Environment and Planning spokeswomen said the proposed development was determined to comply with the relevant code.

“Although objects are still visible 12 metres away, this distance is considered to provide a satisfactory separation between buildings and balconies to neighbouring outdoor areas,” the spokeswomen said.

“The closest residence in this case is approximately 20 metres away, much further than the 12-metre standard and the development is also below the maximum height limit of 9.5 metres.”

In 2012 the community was furious at DHA over a lack of consultation about the estate and while that had turned around dramatically since, Mr Anderson said many residents felt aggrieved by changes in the suburb.

“All of this development got plonked on their doorstep and people now feel these units will look straight down on them,” he said.

“I think there will be an issue with the balconies there but I suspect whatever they [developers] do will not satisfy some of the people in the street.”

He guessed many would be unaware the site had been green-lighted due to the early January time-frame.

“I am genuinely upset that the decision was made on the 13th January,” he said. “I don’t think the current allowance for the summer festive season is long enough.”

He would not call for a two-month halt to public consultation and development decision-making as other council leaders had, but said a fairer arrangement was needed.

“You can’t stop government and business but you can slow it down to give people time to look at these things and I think that’s the way it ought to be,” Mr Anderson said.

Read the article in The Canberra Times

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