Group manager of development Michael Ellery and Cr Ross Sommerfeld after the council meeting, during which the amendments were passed. Picture: Chris Burns.
Group manager of development Michael Ellery and Cr Ross Sommerfeld after the council meeting, during which the amendments were passed. Picture: Chris Burns.

Conditions of secondary dwellings changed in council laws

RESTRICTIONS have been made on secondary dwellings which will prevent a local property from having more than one power and water meter.

It’s part of Bundaberg Regional Council’s two amendments approved in its meeting on Wednesday.

These address local planning changes to secondary dwellings, special zoning, turtle protection in Burnett Heads, and adding places such as Baldwin Swamp to the list of local heritage sites.

These changes will come into effect from February 10.

Planning and development councillor Ross Sommerfeld said the council had to take legal action to stop increasing numbers of “two packs”, which was his description of a house split into two independent sections with separate families with independent amenities.

“We had a lot of complaints about the dual occupancies, and we have court cases that are current on that but certainly the way it’s been interpreted was not the way it was intended,” Cr Sommerfeld said.

“Regrettably, we’ve had to take some serious legal action against a lot of people, that’s no fun, no winners.

“But we’ve had to make sure we give the industry clear direction of what was allowable and what wouldn’t be tolerated and this amendment will take all the issues out of the equation.”

Two dwellings on a property were still allowed but the minimum size had to be 800 square metres, and they had to fall under one fixed address with one supplier for water and power.

Cr Sommerfeld said the amendments were aimed at reducing bureaucracy.

But Bargara resident, Pam Soper, noticed that a limitation of building heights was not part of the amendments, which were approved by Planning Minister Cameron Dick days before Christmas.

Cr Sommerfeld said building heights were not included in the amendments because it would have extended the community consultation process, which was held in September and October last year.

“It would have certainly been topical and an issue that the public probably wouldn’t resolve in the short term, so we deliberately removed those proposed building heights out of the scheme for the next council to have a look at that,” Cr Sommerfeld said.

Consultation with the amendments had meant council planners were barely able to adjust consultation, have approvals confirmed by councillors before sending them to Mr Dick for confirmation.

Planners relied on Mr Dick checking the amendments before this week’s council meeting, because it might not be able to approve changes when the local government election is formally declared.

Cr Sommerfeld said almost 10 sites were added to the list of local heritage sites, including Baldwin Swamp, although these were not recognised at a state or federal level.

“Anyone that wants to develop on or near that has to be conscious of that area,” he said.

“Right up at the front we have to say ‘hey, there’s a local heritage register here that recognises the environmental features next door, what you do must not interfere with that’.

“So it virtually lets them know straight from the start our importance on the issue."

Group manager of development, Michael Ellery, said the council had put planning controls over secondary dwellings to stop them from becoming dual occupancies without planning approval.

“The issue has been around people getting approval for granny flats, then renting them out as duplexes, that’s what we get complaints about,” Mr Ellery said.

“We don’t get complaints about dual occupancy, we get complaints that people don’t have necessary approvals which then leads to unacceptable impacts on adjoining neighbours.”

Mr Ellery said building heights were not included in the amendment because planning of the amendments started almost two years before Mr Dick flagged it was a problem.

“The Minister has indicated that this is a matter that will need to be considered by the next Council,” he said.

“In the meantime, the Minister’s Temporary Local Planning Instrument remains in place and continues to regulate building heights in certain parts of Bargara.”