Since the issue of heritage in Glen Eira is now firmly on the agenda, readers may be interested in a recent VCAT decision. The following extracts are cited verbatim. Please note that once again it appears as if the right hand (ie council’s heritage advisor) and the planning department are poles apart! Even more strange is the fact that council’s delegate is arguing against its proposed Amendment C149!

Source: http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdoc/au/cases/vic/VCAT/2017/1492.html

  • There is nothing in the Heritage local planning policy or the reference documents that provide any real guidance as to what is an acceptable degree of visibility for a first floor addition in this heritage precinct. Mr Raworth (for applicant) has considered the proposed new Heritage local planning policy in Amendment C149. I agree with the Council that this new policy cannot be considered as a seriously entertained planning proposal because it still has a way to go in its consideration through the planning scheme amendment process. This draft new Heritage policy is nevertheless useful in providing insight into the approach that the Council is anticipating that it will take in assessing the impact of visibility of new first floor additions.
  • The draft new Heritage policy encourages additions that are visually recessive and read as a secondary element to the heritage place. The policy states first floor additions should be centrally sited and massed behind the principal visible roof forms, with its visibility minimised from the street. The policy contains a series of sightline drawings from the opposite side of a street for differing building types. The Council and Mr Raworth agree none of these are reflective of the situation in this heritage precinct where the houses have a low pitched roof. Hence, as Mr Raworth points out, a subjective decision needs to be made about whether the design has gone far enough to achieve the first floor appearing as a secondary element. This decision is particularly important in this case as there are limited examples of first floor additions in the precinct at present.
  • The two dimensional and eyeline streetscape views contained in Sheet 6 of the planning application drawings demonstrate the visibility of the first floor from the street. As the roof form is hipped and low pitched, each side of the first floor will have greater visibility than the central section. Given this, it is understandable that Council’s Heritage Advisor was seeking a narrowing of the first floor footprint. However, that is not what Council granted planning permission for, so the width of the first floor is not an aspect of the design that is before me for consideration. It is the proximity of the southwest corner of the front of the first floor addition to the pitch of the roof and visibility of it in the streetscape that I must consider.