A proposal to divide a lot into four dwellings to provide small-scale housing has been approved by Lithgow City Council, overruling a recommendation from staff.
"If we are going to grow our town we've got to expect smaller developments, this allows for couples on their own, retired people, people without children, it's good for community," deputy mayor Cr Steve Ring said.
The plan allows for one lot in Cura Close, Lithgow, to be divided into four.
The development application had previously been brought to council, but various issues, including a retaining wall, had seen it pushed back.
Hillcrest development and planning consultant Ian Rufus spoke in open council on Monday night, October 28 about the development on behalf of the owners of the block.
"This proposal is for four small houses, on their own blocks, as originally lodged. They have been amended due to council's concerns with engineering and design issues. The issues of steepness and council services have also been addressed," he said.
Mr Rufus stated that no neighbours had objected to the proposal.
"The proposal simply shaves the small area of steep bank back to allow an easier grade for maintenance," he said.
"In summary, we consider our proposal is allowable, is consistent in size, scale and height with most of the housing in the area, the lot shapes allow open space consistent with modern living in an urban area, and the overall design provides superior solar access as well as views and desirable appearance to the street."
A report from Lithgow City Council's director of economic development and environment Andrew Muir recommended the application be refused due to lot size and concerns about over development, as well as privacy issues as it would overlook adjoining properties.
There were also concerns about the lot configuration, size and frontage width, the impacts on the streetscape, lack of private open space, as well as context and setting.
"Council officers believe that the additional information and proposal as submitted is not satisfactory to address fundamental town planning concerns," the report said.
"The applicant has failed to demonstrate the development would not have an adverse impact on the built environment. Therefore it is recommended that the application be refused."
Deputy mayor Cr Steve Ring moved the application be approved.
"At the last council meeting I supported this development and I moved an amendment, but if we look at the concerns of council, the only concern from that report was in relation to retaining walls and that matter has been resolved."
Cr Ring said it came down to subjectivity.
"As I said at the last meeting, I wouldn't not buy one of these houses but I don't think they are inappropriate for development," he said.
"These houses provide a need for a market. There are people out there now that want smaller houses and will buy smaller houses."
Cr Ring compared the houses to those you would get in Shoal Harbour and Flinders.
"I don't believe from what we've seen in the drawings and reports that they are unattractive. Go to Shoal Harbour, Flinders, this is what they see...
"I don't think it will set the precedent [as it is a] unique block, I think they've managed constraints well, I believe we should approve it."
Cr Wayne McAndrew did not support Cr Ring's recommendation after reading the concerns that council staff had with the application.
"The concerns we had at the time was the retaining wall over easements which has created issues in our community before," he said.
"I understand the retaining wall is going to be removed now and they are going to bat it back that means there is going to be even less room to build on the top now and I've stood on the edge and I'm not sure how they're going to batter that back at the height that it is is beyond me."
Cr McAndrew also had concerns with other councillors wanting to pass the recommendation on the basis that there was a market for it.
"It's not up to us to determine the market, that's not our role, that's not our job, we don't determine the market, the market determines itself," he said.
"That shouldn't be something councillors worry themselves about, our issue is about town planning concerns and what has been put forward by staff; real concerns that councillors need to take notice of very, very carefully."
Cr Deanna Goodsell said she also supported the development application.
"The concerns raised at the last meeting have been addressed in regards to steepness of property and services," she said.
"If we haven't got a DCP [Development Contribution Plan] how do we determine what is over development on site how do we determine what useful space each resident needs in their own home, how do we know if it is too much or too less?"
Councillor Ring said the council should give the development 100 per cent support.
"What's important is the neighbours haven't complained, not one and they've all been been consulted," he said.
The vote came down to a six to three majority, with councillors Stephen Lesslie, Darryl Goodwin, Deanna Goodsell, Cassandra Coleman, Maree Statham and Steve Ring voting for the application.
Councillors Wayne McAndrew, Joe Smith and mayor Ray Thompson voted against the development.
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