Wednesday, August 22, 2012



This is a document that was prepared on 20th January 2009 and forwarded to the Brisbane City Council. It related to an actual development. It is reproduced here to highlight the problems with planning processes, as it is typical of the issues that arise with many applications. In spite of continuing critiques like this, the Brisbane City Council approved the development. Only two alterations have been made to this text: the name and address of the neighbour, and the name of the original planning consultant. The remainder of the text is as it was submitted to the BCC. The point is that the planning/development approval process needs to be much more rigorous than this if Brisbane is achieve good, quality, transparent urban outcomes, let alone planning excellence.

 The submission, even with the additional information that is supposed to address all concerns, remains very poor, vague, uncertain and manipulative – tricky.
These notes do not intend to outline a complete schedule of matters of concern – things missing; things vague, things wrong; things altered; things impossible; things contradictory; etc. Such a list would only do the work for the developer and allow BCC to assume that once all these have been attended to, then things can be approved.
It is believed that this application should be rejected – that there is no obligation for the BCC to keep asking for more detail when the application is so basically flawed, not only in its careless presentation but also in its response to planning codes and intents.
  • No minutes of any meeting between the applicant and the BCC (as recommended by the BCC) have yet been placed on-line.
  • The additional information asked for a full, detailed, accurate and formally signed survey of the site, showing all the existing structures and services and the proposed blocks. Nothing has yet appeared on-line.
  • The matter of the applicant remains confused – who is what? The planning company seems to be the original applicant but the additional information has been submitted by the resident.
  • The matter of the site area to be used for all calculations remains confused. Formally this must be the area on the registered plan until there is an official submission to have this altered – this has to be approved.
  • The new drawings are naïve and selectively identify things and omit others to suit the chosen outcome.
  • There are no titles, no indication of what the drawings are for; no indication of who has done these; and there is no scale on the new plans.
  • The calculations for areas cannot be confirmed because of a lack of detailed information. One has to make assumptions when checking the information.
  • The elevations contradict plans.
  • Critical dimensions on the first set of plans have been altered in the new submission. Without an accurate survey, the dimensions remain a vague guessing game.
  • Many code requirements remain neglected.
  • The street elevation sums things up most clearly and can be used as a specific example of what is in the remainder of the submission – its lack of rigour, carelessness and poor quality. ‘The street’ has been interpreted as the elevation of the original house (even this is not correct) illustrated as a simple line drawing, pasted beside the elevation of the proposed Block C house shown as a smudgy, dark confusion, with a dark photograph of the neighbouring house glued on the other side. This is as naïve and crude as the shadow diagrams. There different images using different graphic styles all pasted beside each other (to no specific scale) giving a crude collage and no indication of the real outcome – other than it too will very likely be a unique mess. There is no indication of character, of quality, of place or landscape – nothing. No street clutter (e.g. poles) or other elements. Not even the front fence that is presently being painted in parts – the fence that the original application said was not going to be. This is just a very poor, almost negligent effort that reeks of arrogance and belligerence. As with the whole submission, there is no indication that there is an understanding of the special character of this suburb – its old character housing; its open spaces; its lush landscaping; its street quality; its density.
  • The dots in plan that one assumes indicates landscaping leaves everything more vague than ever – are these 15m trees or just ground cover? One can only make assumptions.
  • If one intent of the BCC is to allow good exposure of any development to sunlight, then all existing nearby trees and planting – and potential planting – needs to be considered as well as any shading between the structures on the site and the shadows these will cast onto the neighbouring blocks. The ‘sun study’ shows a complete lack of understanding of what such an analysis should be and should do. The applicant’s response on this matter shows his ignorance.
  • The matter of open space is a serious concern as there seems to be no clear and unambiguous definition – indeed, no definition - of what this can be.

It is simply astonishing that the BCC continued to persevere with this development proposal until it felt that it could approve it in spite of the issues raised. Now that the development has been completed, the BCC wants nothing to do with knowing just what has been impossible to implement and what the impact of the proposal really is. It is all very alarming. One wonders just what hope there is for Brisbane’s future if matters continue like this and the BCC remains careless about good feedback and post-development/occupancy assessments.

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