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Development Delays A Frustrating Reality

By Dan Hutton on October 4, 2011 in News

Photo: Dan Hutton

A word of warning to prospective homeowners purchasing with a view to renovate: be prepared to build in plenty of slack.

What may seem like a cut and dry approval process can sometimes take upward of 12 months and cost you thousands of dollars.

Bondi’s Brody Peterson (owner of two of Bondi Road’s best dining establishments The Flying Squirrel and The Stuffed Beaver) knows only too well how long it can take to get a development application approved, not to mention how expensive the waiting period can be.

Peterson purchased a small, run down semi-detached two-bedder on Bondi’s Castlefield Street in October 2010 with a view to renovate, renting a two-bedroom apartment with his fiancée and child in the meantime.

“It’s like the last untouched semi in South Bondi. It hasn’t been touched since about 1910 when it was built. It was the only house we could afford in Bondi, but it needs to be renovated for it to be habitable,” Peterson told The Beast.

Peterson began working with architects to come up with plans that would improve his property whilst falling well within council guidelines, hoping that he’d be able to push his development through council with minimal fuss and begin his renovations as promptly as possible.

Peterson went as far as to sit down with his neighbours and show them his plans, ensuring that they were completely happy with his application prior to lodgement.

In March this year, Peterson submitted his development application to council satisfied that it would be met with prompt approval.

To Peterson’s surprise his DA attracted an objection from one of the neighbours who he had previously consulted and gained personal approval from. The objection related to a number of features of the proposed development including the height and bulk at the back of the building, how it was centred and hence its attractiveness from the street, its with, its proximity to the property boundary, and its effect on the neighbour’s light.

Notably, all of these features fell well within Waverley Council’s development guidelines, but despite this, all but one of the objections were upheld.

“You think you’re doing the right thing by doing all your development designs within council guidelines and then it gets thrown back in your face. Why does council have the guidelines if they’re still going to shut you down because of one complainer?”

Peterson was left with little choice but to change his designs to comply with the conditions of his development application approval or go through the expensive and time consuming process of taking his case to the Land and Environment Court.
“We’ve just got to grin and bear it,” he said.

“We’ve changed the design and now we’re waiting for the Construction Certificate so we should be building by early October.

“To take it to the Land and Environment Court it would cost a fortune and take up too much time when I’ve got a two year-old kid, we’re living in a small apartment and I’m trying to run two local businesses. It’s just getting too expensive. We’ve had to suck it up and accept the conditions.”

Despite the setbacks, a clearly frustrated Peterson had some sage advice for others looking to purchase and renovate.
“Make sure you know your neighbours and budget for an extended DA approval period.”