A home is not enough.

St John Fuller, Plumstead

I am not against densification.

If well managed and thought out it is a good way of meeting the needs of housing people.

In comparison to other cities, the neighbourhoods of the southern suburbs are not densely populated. But there is a big but. A developer said to me that “feelings don’t matter”.

In this matter he is wrong. A person’s environment very much impacts on their well-being, both physically and mentally. This can be stated without fact.

Research shows that greenery and the wild life that this brings are very much beneficial to a persons sense of well being. Negative impacts on a person’s, and by extension a city’s, sense of well-being include pollution (including noise pollution), artificial barriers such as roads which disrupt flow between neighbourhoods and so increase a sense of them and us.

So what environments are our city planners allowing to be created for us?

I see developers tearing down trees, hedges, turning green spaces into urban deserts.

I see developers working late at night and on weekends.

I see roads ever widening, pollution increasing. Ever increasing areas of land being paved over which means that the water table is less able to replenish.

We are at a crisis point. The problem is not just local. It is global, but yet we are allowing our housing needs to be met by a private sector that seems to have little regard for what impact they are having on the environment, and in turn the health and well-being of future generations.

A developer bragged to me that no one “can stop me from making money”. Maybe not. But we should really be demanding that developers be required to meet higher standards than just merely creating extra housing.

In this regard the council is failing, not just the current generation but, future ones. They may say that we are holding developers to account by imposing fines. But I ask, after the fines have been imposed, what has happened? Does the behaviour change? Is the pattern just repeated and will it be allowed to continue ad infinitum?

I ask the council, what is their plan “a healthy city or an unhealthy one?” Current development suggests the former.

Marian Nieuwoudt, the City’s mayoral committee member for spatial planning and environment, responds:

We have focused on properties zoned Single Residential 1 and the permitted land use rights the zoning scheme (Development Management Scheme) reflects, and the consent uses for which Council approval is required.

We would like to advise the resident that an owner or developer may either develop property within the permitted use rights for which no land use application is needed or if the development proposal is inconsistent with the existing use rights, a land use application will need to be made. Such applications are then assessed against Council approved policy to assess consistency.

Permitted use rights are those listed as primary uses and additional use rights that are permitted without approval, subject to compliance with the development rules or conditions that apply generally or specifically to such use rights.

For example, the second and third dwellings are permitted use rights subject to the general development rules, but also the specific conditions linked to it, see excerpts from the zoning scheme below.

An owner must therefore demonstrate compliance with such conditions prior to taking up these rights or before a building plan can be approved.

I can also confirm that the second and third dwelling inclusion in the Development Management Scheme has been informed by the City’s Densification Policy. It is therefore consistent with Council approved policy.

1 Use of the property

The following use restrictions apply to properties in this zoning:

(a) Primary uses are dwelling house, private road and additional use rights as specified in paragraph (b).

(b) Additional use rights which may be exercised by the occupant of a property are home occupation, bed and breakfast establishment, second dwelling, third dwelling and home child care, subject to the following conditions:

(i) Except for a second dwelling, only one of the activities listed as additional use rights shall be conducted on any land unit as a primary use. Where more than one such activity is required, the City’s approval shall be obtained;

(ii) The dominant use of the property shall be a dwelling house for accommodation of a single family;

(iii) The proprietor of the activity concerned shall live on the property;

(iv) The conditions stipulated in items 23, 24, 25, 25A or 25B (whichever is applicable) shall be adhered to;

(v) Any new structure or alteration to the property to accommodate an additional use right shall be compatible with the residential character of the area, particularly with regard to the streetscape, and shall be capable of reverting to use as part of the dwelling house, second dwelling, third dwelling or outbuilding concerned; and

(vi) No more than three employees shall be engaged by the occupant in the activity concerned.

(c) Consent uses are utility service, place of instruction, place of worship, house shop, institution, guest house, minor rooftop base telecommunication station, rooftop base telecommunication station, wind turbine infrastructure, open space, urban agriculture, veterinary practice and halfway house.

25A Second dwelling

The following conditions shall apply to a second dwelling:

(a) The total floor space of a second dwelling may not exceed the total floor space of the main dwelling unit without the approval of the City. The floor space of ancillary buildings is excluded from this provision;

(b) The City may require that a second dwelling be constructed in a style that is similar to the architecture of the main dwelling house;

(c) A second dwelling that is a separate structure to a main dwelling house shall not exceed a height of 6m measured from existing ground level to the wall plate and 8m to the top of the roof;

(d) A second dwelling contained within the same building as a main dwelling house must be designed so that the building appears as a single dwelling house; both units may have a ground floor, or one unit may be on the ground floor and the other unit above;

(e) The existence of a second dwelling shall not in itself be sufficient reason for the City to grant an application in terms of this bylaw to subdivide the land unit containing the dwelling units;

(f) The construction of a second dwelling is subject to the certification by all relevant municipal service department Directors, or their delegates, that capacity is available on the services network in the specific area.

25B Third dwelling

The following conditions shall apply to a third dwelling:

(a) The total floor space of a third dwelling may not exceed the total floor space of the main dwelling without the approval of the City. The floor space of ancillary buildings is excluded from this provision;

(b) The City may require that a third dwelling be constructed in a style that is similar to the architecture of the main dwelling house;

(c) A third dwelling that is a separate structure to a main or second dwelling shall not exceed a height of 6m measured from existing ground level to the wall plate and 8m to the top of the roof;

(d) A third dwelling contained within the same building as a main dwelling or second dwelling must be designed so that the building appears as a single dwelling house; all units may have a ground floor, or one unit may be on the ground floor and the other units above;

(e) The existence of a third dwelling shall not in itself be sufficient reason for the City to grant an application in terms of this By-Law to subdivide the land unit containing the dwelling units;

(f) The construction of a third dwelling is subject to the certification by all relevant municipal service department Directors, or their delegates, that capacity is available on the services network in the specific area.