Marco Canestrari urges residents to make the most of the appeal period after a duplex was approved for Iceberg Court.
Marco Canestrari urges residents to make the most of the appeal period after a duplex was approved for Iceberg Court. Shannon Newley

Town planner fears duplex rise

DUPLEXES could sprout up throughout the Southern Downs when the new planning scheme comes into effect next year, fears Killarney town planner Jamie MacKenzie.

An alteration to the current planning scheme meant dual occupancy dwellings could be approved through code assessment if they were located on a site more than 800 square metres and had a frontage of at least 20 metres to a constructed sealed road.

Mr MacKenzie said approval through code assessment meant applications would not have to be considered before council and could be signed off by council officers.

He was so unimpressed with the inclusion of this clause; he made a submission to council.

"Providing a greater mix of housing is important," Mr Mackenzie said.

"But I note under the new planning scheme, it is possible to have streets and streets of duplexes side by side on 800 square metre lots without public objection. I don't think that's what most families want to dominate their local areas."

Mr MacKenzie said the issue with the new scheme meant nearby residents would not have to be notified if a duplex was being built, or have the right to object, if it fit in the code assessment criteria.

"Under the new town plan, you could wake up to duplexes going up next door with no right of objection" he said.

"The public should have a right to make worthwhile comments and the rule book should reflect the locals' views, with enough flexibility for justified innovative designs."

He said in the past 10 years there had been several significant objections to housing projects in newly established residential areas around Bernecker/Willow Streets, East Warwick and Glennie Heights.

"Warwick could also lose its streetscape identity of lovely big old homes close to town," he said.

Duplexes sparked controversy under the current scheme after two more - both in Mulberry Ridge Estate - were given the go ahead by council last week despite five written submissions against one of them.

Estate resident Marco Canestrari said residents felt let down after a material change of use was approved for the blocks of land, both of which had previously been allocated for single dwellings.

"These two blocks of land were never intended to have duplexes built on them," Mr Canestrari said.

"The Mayor, Ron Bellingham and council staff already knew of the congestion, narrow roads, high speed limit and inadequate off-street parking within the estate yet they went ahead and approved of the building of two more duplexes which will only make the existing problem worse.

"The council may be getting double rates by having duplexes rather than a single dwelling but that should not have been an incentive for council to approve more duplexes."

Objectors have 21 days to appeal the decision.

Mr MacKenzie said it could get worse for Mulberry Ridge Estate residents.

"There are a number of sites in the Mulberry Ridge Estate exceeding 800 square metres," he said.

"Under the proposed planning scheme, there could be even more duplexes in the estate established without public objections. This is not progressive planning and contrary to the residents' preferences as outlined in the submissions to this development."

The Southern Downs Regional Council was contacted for a response but if not reply at the time of publication.

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