ORANGE City Council needs to move now to tighten the rules for housing developments in the backyards of existing homes to avoid creating concrete jungles and leave more space for landscaping, according to Cr Neil Jones.
Dubbed infill development, battleaxe-block housing developments have been a bone of contention for the council for years.
Last year neighbours of two units proposed for a backyard in Kite Street tried for months to have the development rejected, but eventually lost their battle.
Cr Jones’ comments come after he was the “lone dissenting voice” who voted against Cr Scott Munro’s development application, approved at Tuesday’s meeting, to build three three-bedroom and two two-bedroom houses on a battleaxe block in Moulder Street.
He described it as even more severe than last year’s Kite Street development, but said both were part of a dangerous pathway to changing the city’s highly-prized central heritage conservation area with its space around homes for vegetation.
“Appropriate infill development that uses under-utilised space behind homes can contribute to the fabric of inner-city living,” he said.
“But what the issue is, is the density of the development, I believe the movement we’re seeing is for over development. In these battleaxe blocks where one to three [homes] might be appropriate we’re seeing five or six.”
Cr Jones said an infill policy for the city was put on hold last year while the council waited for statewide changes to the planning system.
Although the overhaul is yet to be finalised, he wants the council to get on the front foot to tighten the criteria for infill developments.
But not all his fellow councillors agree with him.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Cr Ron Gander described Cr Munro’s development as tasteful and said it was too late for the council to close the gate on infill development as the horse had already bolted.
He said Cr Munro had gone to great expense to satisfy everyone with the landscaping plans.
Cr Kevin Duffy agreed, and said he supported the DA because it met the requirements, not because it was owned by Cr Munro.
“I do sympathise with the objectors that it’s not with the spirit of the law, but we don’t judge developments on tears we do it on the letter of the law,” he said.