David Brown, Mullumbimby Creek
Congratulations to Byron Shire councillors Wanchap and Dey for (at least initially) moving to refuse the application for townhouses at 27–29 Station Street, Mullumbimby.
In 40 years designing and developing new homes, and judging winning and winning awards, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a building proposal so insensitive to the character of its surrounds. Or such an obvious over-development. The other councillors can only be branded as spineless wimps. They should have accepted without debate the judgment of their officers and the justifiable concerns of neighbours. Resolving ‘… concerns relating to bulk, scale and privacy issues…’ (along with numerous others) will only be resolved by a total redesign and a reduction in the number and height of the dwellings. Negotiation will only end up with a worse solution.
Four single-storey dwellings (with additional floor area within steep-pitched roofs) compatible with the architectural character of the neighbourhood would be a less-greedy approach. More space would be available for screening. And vehicle access from both Station Street and the lane would avoid a driveway down one side. But perhaps the latter was not possible because some ‘smart’ engineer thought the development could pay to upgrade the lane. Unfortunately such poorly considered directions often result in devastatingly bad design decisions.
If you have to, engage a fearless mediator with high-level design skills. There are competent architects in Byron Shire who, with council’s backing, could perform this task. Better still, send the applicant back to the drawing board with clear directions as to what would be acceptable.
Oh, and while I’m at it, I think you’ll find under the BCA they are Class 1 townhouses not residential flat buildings.