Overdevelopment got a serve last Thursday when a majority of councillors supported refusal of the long-equivocated Development Application for ‘Fed Sheds’ in Federal. I proposed refusal in August but lost the vote then, with the majority preferring to send the local community in to bat for a compromise with the proponent. That failed and four months later we got there.
While the idea of a light-industry hub in Federal village has merit, this site can’t carry the quantum of building that was proposed. The proposal’s failure was in taking an urban approach to a rural site.
‘Urban’ means sending sewage and stormwater off the property to municipal systems designed to accept them. ‘Rural’ means dealing with them within the property boundaries.
The onsite sewage proposal was experimental but there would have been no manager to watch the system; no reserve area as backup in case the system failed; no capacity for any trade wastes (despite food and drink trades being banned); and inadequate buffers to the downhill boundary. The effluent application system would have been unique in not having access to a natural surface for evapotranspiration – it was to be beneath the carpark.
The stormwater proposal included mandatory onsite detention but that design is based on the short-duration storms falling on the 4,000 square metre property itself. The peak storm flow gets reduced by detention, to be lower than the pre-development peak, but the volume of runoff still increases. More water leaves the site, just spread over a longer period. Sadly, the maths ends at the pipe outlet in Coachwood Court. That area already has insoluble flood problems. Those problems are caused by longer-period storms than those to which the developing property is sensitive, because the catchment to Coachwood Court is bigger (call this principle Hydrology 102). Delaying the flood off the smaller catchment actually compounds flooding on the larger one, i.e. in Coachwood Court.
Stormwater design that does not consider impacts all the way down the catchment (to Stoney Creek in this case) may be compliant, but it falls way short of dealing correctly with impacts. The stormwater system serving Coachwood Court is defective and adding problems to it would have been wrong.
A reduction in built area in the proposal would have left room for correct treatment of sewage and stormwater from that more modest proposal. Let’s hope the developer takes that approach in a future DA, rather than running to court to roll the dice on whether experts can’t grasp what I’ve written above.