Byng Street Local Store development delayed pending negotiations | Video

ORANGE City Council staff will re-enter negotiations with the owner of Byng Street Local Store after resident opposition led to offers of a re-design. 

John Edwards spoke about the council’s infill policy, which set the standards for consistency in heritage streetscapes, saying the policy disapproved of too-large windows, yet council staff had not rejected what he called “a big glass box”.

“Something appears to be very wrong,” he said.

He said when he renovated his heritage property in 2010, he could not have a dark blue roof.

“I thought it would look quite classy so I agreed with council and settled for woodland grey, which looks quite good anyway,” he said. 

“So I know firsthand when the owner or resident want to alter their property, they must, and rightfully so, dance a bit.

“So here we are with this proposal... it appears to me this property has been treated a little bit differently because I believe this proposal should not have made it over the council’s front desk.”

Fellow resident Justine Milne said the policy was easy to understand.

“It cannot be misunderstood, not by me and especially not by an architect or a town planner,” she said. 

“It does not use materials that are informed by the existing, it’s entirely of glass and metal, it does not respond to the existing ridgelines, parapet lines [or] roof slopes. It’s uses large areas of glass with floor-to-ceiling glazing, a style which the infill guidelines make clear should be avoided.”

She suggested using the existing building’s roofline, shape and materials and consistent windows as a more suitable design.

Sally Kay pointed out the cafe’s first approval allowed for nine seats inside. 

“I’m sure you would have been happy to approve that, so would I,” she said.

“The next DA is to increase the seating to 26 people inside and 37 outdoors – you’re probably happy to approve that as long as there are decent conditions in place, but what if that second DA in 2012 had been for an 84 square-metre glass box attached to the current building with a takeaway window, variable seating for 69 people, music and alcohol served until 10pm six nights a week? Would you have approved that? I don’t think any reasonable councillor would have.”

Peter Basha, speaking on behalf of applicant Jeremy Norris, appreciated the concern about the design, however he contended the application was made responsibly and discussions had been ongoing with the council from an early stage.

“The feedback we got at the time was that the design was generally appropriate subject to some changes in bulk, scale and height,” he said. 

“Council’s own infill guidelines also state any new development should not have to replicate existing building form, but should be compatible and enhance the streetscape.

“Out of respect for the objections which have been made, I’ve had a discussion with the applicant Mr Norris and he said we are prepared to look at a re-design if that would be appropriate.”

Councillor Kevin Duffy moved to defer the application.

“I saw very passionate custodians of our city that are prepared to put their money where their mouth is to protect our heritage,” he said.

He said it reminded him of the hotel proposal at 62 Byng Street, except the developer was willing to compromise.

“Let’s give that an opportunity to make that happen,” he said. 

Councillor Jeff Whitton also saw the similarities, saying councillors were considering another development which “just does not fit the bill” but it was not the fault of the developer or the architect.

“No disrespect to the staff, but this is our fault and we’re here tonight and we’ve heard from some wonderful speakers who have to inform us of what our documents say,” he said.

“Would we allow a house in an area of heritage to fill in their entire backyard?”

Councillor Glenn Taylor asked how the plans got so far.

“What was the point? We went through all the heartache and the emotion of 62 Byng Street then we come back put an infill policy in place – I’m at a loss how that can be interpreted as sympathetic infill policy,” he said.

“By gee, there’s going to have to be a lot of compromise.”

Councillors Stephen Nugent and Scott Munro indicated if they were not voting to defer, they would refuse it.