• Swarup Dutta,AuArchitecture

Is Collaboration and Knowledge the Answer

Recent planning Approvals- and a few came in the inbox- demonstrates that arrogance, lack of collaboration, poor planning knowledge, unable to "marry" planning policy with creative design, of course courtesy with a bit of "cunning" can make Council support an Application ( or lack of these qualities can end up with a refusal)

Take for example a site in the Glen eira Council area which had a 1m diameter stormwater water pipe running sort of diagonally across the great looking site. Of course the owners were never aware of it when purchasing the land. AuArchitecture obtained approval for a duplex style dual occupancy on this awkward site. The neighbour applied for a duplex too and got knocked back. So he ended up with one small single storey dwelling behind the front unit- both new!

A duplex adds more value, has more floor area, less common property and each has a street presence. Our clients are overjoyed with the successful planning permit!

(Similarly a client wished to purchase a $6m development site in the Box Hill area- I forewarned him of the Melbourne Water Storm water pipe running within the site- and not clearly shown in the Section32. And that pipe was 1.35m in diameter.)

Coming back to winning permits- so how does one win planning permits? I had managed over 250 successful planning approvals across Melbourne Councils so I thought I should know- and my trade secret- my very own developments. (read one of them here)

One such difficult development took 2 years to get a planning approval and for rezoning the land use from "cant be built on" to Residential Zone. The absolute water front beach home, which I owner built, was on land "protected" by council- for ecological, structural, drainage, local views and amenities reasons. There was a creek running through the lovely land and flora and fauna was another challenge.

The screw in foundations sunk 6m deep like pins holding the structure- which could be adjusted to suit soil movements. ( yes I enjoy engineering challenges as much as great design and town planning intel)

That project taught me Councils are doing a job and we need to collaborate- within reason- so its a win win win- for the property owner, the neighbours and Council's policy.

I recall the day when I got the Occupancy Certificate. The remark the Council officer then made summed it all up- He said- Swarup , my colleagues and I would have loved to own this 3000 sqm water front block. It was zoned a no go by our planning policy. You took it on and proved us wrong. And we had to fight you for 2 years just for that- to protect policy. That same officer became a good friend. Similarly to the Planning Officer at Manningham Council who too was doing her job and is now "cobbers". And the other officers I deal with across the State...

Not following the Golden Rule could mean disaster.

A planning refusal is another 12 months lost, and possibly a VCAT appeal (and who knows where that can end up- does your planning lawyer guarantee a result?)

To win planning approval Think Design + Town Planning as ONE package and not in isolation- if you need Council to respect your views. Marrying design with town planning knowledge comes from experience- the text book stuff does not work!

Recently we won a permit for a duplex in another council which is totally averse to duplex developments. We even separated the two "side by side" dwellings so it was easy to build or sell off one lot.

The design was super contemporary in an area where the old hipped roof single storey detached dwellings dominated the streetscape. So where did that neighbourhood character evaporate to? Neighbourhood character was one of the reasons this council was refusing applications.

The extension to a heritage cottage (and dilapidated) is almost complete. And we added a swimming pool, cabana and 4 bedrooms making the $1m build a huge success for our good friend client Jim. He's laughing to the bank and we got the approval.

Collaboration- think win- Win-Win. Not just one Win! and Permits will come.

Contact me if you are facing an uphill battle at Council.

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We would love to serve you through smart and beautiful  designs for your dream house, dual occupancy, townhouse or apartment projects or commercial and industrial buildings which makes  a difference.

I recall doing a

  • large multi unit  residential design with a sky-street on the fifth level for the kids to play in safety while  creating  a real sense of community living and  

  • a modular home design which grew with the family budget rather like a series of plug in components and 

  • the windmill house with views where each stair landing led to a different view and function and

  • right down to designing and obtaining planning permits for practical traditional designs to meet the family  or developer's budget and objectives.

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