2022 candidate for City of Holdfast Bay.
Heritage survey responses.
Do you think that Councils and community members need to have a greater voice in planning and development decisions affecting their local area?
Yes, the State Government has systematically stripped away planning power from local councils. The argument was that planning rules should be consistent and simplified but much of council control relied on its traditional planning zones and special character areas and these have now been watered down to just a few zones and one standardised special character area on the portal. The resultant lack of nuance was justified as allowing an easy-to-use-by-all portal but the sacrifice was wasted as this is not the case. The new rules of notification for building have also meant that next-door neighbours are not even informed of building if deemed to be complying and the right to complain has also been restricted. Our council received a warning letter from the State Planning Commission for informing residents of 'complying' buildings. Communities need full input into planning in their area to allay the suspicion that developers are being unfairly advantaged and allowed to stretch the rules to the maximum and beyond for profit, to the disadvantage of those living there. Councils are often unfairly blamed for this as their loss of control of planning has not yet been well understood by citizens.
What role should Councils play in protecting local heritage places from demolition or inappropriate development?
Councils should have full control over creating and protecting local heritage buildings. At present, the owner has to accept local heritage status when asked and few do. Even local heritage listing does not protect a building from demolition - it currently needs State heritage listing for that. Inappropriate development next to heritage buildings used to be a reason councils could refuse planning permission but is no longer a sufficient cause as the new planning rules were intended to remove subjective opinion on style etc. Large developments go to the State for approval anyway. The removal of complementary buildings from those to be protected has also reduced control as only 1 representative building from eg. a row of workers' cottages is now protected rather than the whole row as once was the case (even though keeping the row gives a much better look to the street and more of a sense of heritage). closely controlled by councils for inappropriate are nThe argument was that it would standardise planning rules but in fact many councils had special character areas that were individual in style and that was reflected in the specific planning rules for them whereas now these character areas must use one set of ubiquitous planning rules.
How would you seek to improve protections for heritage places in your area?
Council should be able to list local heritage places regardless of owner approval. The buildings should not be allowed to be demolished or inappropriately added to. There should be some compensation from rates or grants to encourage maintenance of the property but, if it is not maintained properly and is unoccupied or only part-occupied, council should notify the owner to do the work and, if no response is received, be able to get the work done and charge the owner for it. In extreme circumstances, an unmaintained listed building could be compulsorily acquired so as to do the work to preserve it and then recover costs by reselling it.
We rarely see new places added to local heritage listings. Why do you think this is?
As the owner does not usually gain from local heritage listing and it complicates work on and resale of the property, owners currently refuse local heritage listing. The process also takes council time to select buildings and apply the listing but adding appropriate buildings gives a representative range of local building styles to retain for the future.
How has the Planning and Design Code impacted on the heritage, amenity, and environment of your area? What changes would you seek to the Code?
The new code has oversimplified the zoning and made it easy to add inappropriate buildings to the detriment of local character. I think the code needs to allow local special character zones again so as to allow precise definition of these areas. Otherwise, planning will encourage a homogenous mass. If we want variety, we have to specifically select for it.
What are the impacts of infill development in your area? What changes would you seek in the rules around infill development?
When I stood for council 4 years ago, I needed only 3000 flyers. Now I need 4000. The large blocks of medium-sized houses set in complementary gardens of trees, shrubs, lawn and flowers produced attractive streetscapes but are disappearing. There was room for native birds and reptiles. Where do they go now there are huge houses on small blocks set with concrete patios and driveways, a small scattering of pot plants and very little other greenery? Where does the rainwater go now there are few large trees to quickly take it underground? What about the air quality without tree leaves to produce oxygen and remove pollutants? How hot are our streets now they are surrounded by hard concrete surfaces? It is hard to be specific about infill as it has its merits - reducing traffic and commuter time from outer suburbs, allowing more people to enjoy the amenities of existing areas and bringing younger people into suburbs that have become full of the old and frail. It also reduces the loss of the outer agricultural areas. However, the gradual reduction in minimum size of blocks means that 2 or 3 houses can now be built on one old house block. There should be a stop to this size reduction and also a more severely applied limit to the percentage of land built on eg. a maximum of 50% and also a deep water soakage area of 30% ie. land not under concrete. With drones able to fly over houses now, the excuse that the areas can't be retained or checked over time is no longer true. There should also be enough parking to put all the cars in the household, set as 1 per bedroom, inside the premises. This would reduce the pressure on the roads which have seen increasingly large numbers of cars parked on the roadsides, thus narrowing the road and congesting traffic.
Construction of new housing typically uses 30% labour and 70% materials. Renovation of existing housing stock typically uses 70% labour and 30% materials. What policy changes would you like to see made to encourage people to renovate, rather than demolish and build anew?
There should be much higher costs for disposing of building waste to landfill to encourage as much recycling of it as possible and also to avoid unnecessary demolition in the first place. Any building company found to be dumping of building waste will automatically lose the developer its builders' permit. There will be penalties for demolishing buildings unnecessarily. Each building, prior to its sale, should be surveyed and given a lifespan rating. The longer the lifespan, the higher the penalty for demolishing it - to the buyer. Leaving a building unoccupied (or rented out) to deteriorate prior to sale will be charged higher council rates and any deliberate damage to it prior to sale will also attract a fine. That is all 'stick' but 'carrot' could be reduced council rates for houses retained or renovated after sale as well as more grants available. Another carrot could be that trees retained by the new owner receive a reduced council rate.
How should the community be informed and involved in decisions about new developments?
Council should be able to advertise new planning applications to the community at large on its website or at the council offices. Nearby residents should be notified of complying and non-complying applications. All residents can submit responses re these applications.
Do you think there is adequate tree canopy across your local government area?
No, Holdfast Bay has one of the lowest tree canopies in Adelaide while Adelaide has one of the lowest tree canopy levels (despite the Parklands) compared to other capital cities and South Australia also has low tree canopy levels compared to other states. So we are the lowest of the low!
How would you like to see significant and regulated trees in your area protected from removal?
When developing a block, all trees of any size on a boundary should be protected unless the neighbour requests its removal. All regulated and significant trees to be totally protected unless 2 arborists agree (one from council) that the tree is dangerous or has a lifespan of less than 1 year left. Protected trees need to be protected during building by complying with tree protection zones. Any damage will be charged to the builder using the Burnley Tree Valuation to set a fair cost based on the worth of the tree and its ecosystem services.
What involvement should Councils have in decisions about protecting or removing significant and regulated trees?
Council should get its arborist to assess the tree and only remove it if he agrees with the owner's arborist that that the tree is dangerous or has a lifespan of less than 1 year left. The State should defer to the local council's decision, even if a tree is on a site that State is assessing for development (State allowed a fast food restaurant where a beloved significant old gum tree was on the boundary and didn't even inform council that it was to be removed).
What actions would you advocate to slow or mitigate the impacts of climate change in your local government area?
It is no longer enough for councils to plant trees in streets and reserves as the number of trees being lost from private land is much greater as infill continues. Tree canopy cover will therefore decline rather than increase unless private landowners can be incentivised with lower council rates or grants to retain existing or plant new trees, preferably native. This would be especially important in urban heat islands. I would also suggest a campaign to tell houseowners that white or light roofs passively cool houses by several degrees so again lower rates or grants might be given. Road surfaces could be lighter in colour and made of more reflective material too, though the benefits can vary according to shading, surrounding building height etc. More reflective footpaths can cool the ground but RAISE the temperature a few feet above ground due to the reflection so care has to be taken. Grass that is well-watered can cool areas too as of course can ponds and water features so these could be installed in more reserves and open spaces as long as there is not limited water due to drought. As a coadtal cojncil ee need to protect our coastline and beaches from sea level rise but the benefits of the cooling wind from the sea make this an important refuge in hot weather (as long as Slip, Slop, Slap is applied).
What issues are there with traffic and parking in your area?
Narrow roads are reduced further by parked cars even if parking is allowed only on one side of the street. Too many households have more cars than space to park in the driveway so park on the road.
How could transport options be improved in your area?
It is almost easier to go to the city by walking to the train station than to get to nearby Glenelg by bus. There are infrequent big buses when it would be better to use on-call small buses. In Darwin years ago I was impressed by minibuses you could phone that would note your pick-up point, pick you up and drop you off at a destination (neither had to be a bus stop), all very cheaply with a driver and phone operator/conductor on board. Surely with most people using phones now, we could smarten up how we flag down buses - digitally!
What would your top three priorities be for improving planning policy and outcomes in your local government area?
Getting more community notification back and the ability to comment on planning applications
Improving the portal to allow more local variation again
Giving more protection to heritage buildings and large trees