Fluffy blocks going dual occupancy

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MICK Gentleman has announced proposed changes to the Territory Plan to allow for development opportunities of Mr Fluffy blocks.

“DV343 will facilitate urban renewal throughout the capital, through the redevelopment of decontaminated Mr Fluffy blocks,” Mick said.

“Public comments are invited on a draft variation to the Territory Plan that proposes planning changes to residential blocks surrendered under the Mr Fluffy Buyback Program.

“These changes are a measured and modest response to the ‘Mr Fluffy’ legacy that will allow the ACT Government to recoup some of the costs of the Loose Fill Asbestos Insulation Eradication Scheme by improving the development potential of blocks surrendered through the scheme.

“These changes were foreshadowed in October last year, and since that time careful consideration has been given and some of the proposed variations amended. The changes proposed are minor, and while there could be some uplift in the resale of surrendered blocks, this will not have a significant impact on the community.

“Currently the planning rules for the RZ1 zone allow leaseholders to build two houses on the same block of land if it is 800m2 or larger but not to sell them separately.

“Draft variation 343 would allow ‘Mr Fluffy’ blocks in the RZ1 zone that are larger than 700m2 to be subdivided under the Unit Titles Act 2001. This means two houses can be built on the same block and each can have a separate title.

“The scheme allows homeowners affected by Mr Fluffy to be given the first right of refusal to repurchase their block and redevelop as a unit titled dual occupancy if they wish, or rebuild a single dwelling. In cases where an affected homeowner does not choose to repurchase their block it enables others to take up the opportunity offered by the draft variation.

“The draft variation provides for increased opportunities but the potential for negative impacts is mitigated through building height limitations and design criteria contained in the variation,” Minister Gentleman said.

The plot ratio has been revised to accommodate the reduction in block size and unit titling for dual occupancy development with the new plot ratios similar to those permitted in the RZ2 suburban core zone.

Dual occupancy development will be limited to single storey for those dwellings that do not front a public road.

Blocks in heritage areas will not be impacted and there will be no changes to RZ2 zones.

For more information visit www.planning.act.gov.au/home or www.act.gov.au/asbestostaskforce

UPDATE: The Property Council is asking some searching questions about why this planning change only applies to houses of a certain insulation type:

The relaxation of planning requirements for ‘Mr Fluffy’ blocks should apply across the board in the ACT, says the Property Council of Australia.
Minister for Planning, Mick Gentleman, has announced proposed changes to the Territory Plan to allow greater development opportunities for ‘Mr Fluffy’ blocks.

“We welcome the ACT Government’s intention to relax planning requirements and other inhibitors of urban consolidation in relation to the Mr Fluffy houses,” says the Property Council’s Executive Director ACT, Catherine Carter.

“However, the question arises as to whether the ACT Government will relax existing planning rules to enable other dual occupancy developments across the ACT.”

Currently, dual occupancy is allowed in the RZ1 residential zone only on blocks bigger than 800m2. These blocks cannot be split into separate titles. The draft variation will allow dual occupancy on smaller blocks of 700m2, and for each to have a separate title.

In addition, houses on dual occupancy blocks can cover no more than a third of the block. The Mr Fluffy dual occupancies will be allowed to cover 50 per cent of the block if both homes have direct street frontage, and 35 per cent otherwise. Two-storey homes will be allowed if both homes have direct street frontage; otherwise the limit will be one storey.

Blocks in heritage areas will not be affected and there will be no changes to RZ2 zones.

“For many years, dual occupancies in Canberra enabled people to age in place in their suburb and to remain close to shops, medical facilities, friends and existing infrastructure. The ACT Government decided to prohibit dual occupancies in 2003, arguing that mediating disputes between two owners of common property was problematic.

“Now that the ACT Government has recognised that this is not such a great problem, and is proposing changes to existing planning laws to permit some dual occupancies. The new rules proposed by Minister Gentleman seem eminently sensible and well able to meet community needs, while also facilitating ‘gentle densification’.

“This decision puts dual occupancy development back on the agenda, and we need a comprehensive plan and sensible rules that address the Mr Fluffy situation and provide a city-wide approach to dual occupancy development,” Ms Carter concludes.

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