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Building and development – solving neighbourhood problems

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As buildings age, particularly those that have had their repairs and maintenance neglected, strata communities might choose to redevelop all or part of the building to comply with fire and life safety orders and / or to remain functional and relevant in the current market. Knowledge of building and development process is required.

Similarly, when a neighbor is proposing a new building or a lot owner wants to do structural work, the building and development process becomes relevant to strata community life.

While each state and territory has their own building and development legislative regimes, the process is generally the same:

  1. Environmental plans set out the guidelines for development in a local area – watch for new plans in your area as everyone has a say before they are finalised;
  2. The general rule is that development approval is required from your local authority to erect, structurally alter, or demolish any building, including outhouses and sheds. Excavations and painting of heritage-listed properties also needs approval
    – remember if something does not require development approval, for example because it does not affect the structural integrity of the building, it may still require owners corporation approval under the by-laws;
  3. The subdivision of excess land also requires a development approval;
  4. High impact development applications will require advertising and objections might be lodged on the grounds of effecting views, overshadowing, privacy, encroachments, noise, possible parking problems and changing the streetscape or character of the neighborhood – if you are going up another level or two, the set back of the new floor will be relevant to the way the building looks from below.
  5. Development approvals will cost up to $200,000 for major works because they will require full-scale drawings and an array of experts reports and can take 9 to 18 months depending on the level of objections and the complexity of the issues. If building and development work is being undertaken to comply with fire and life safety orders, temporary measures may have to be taken to protect the safety of occupants and visitors pending the resolution of this often long and drawn out
    process; and
  6. The owners corporation is required to consent to any development approval application but the consent to lodging the application does not stop the owners from objecting to the application – try explaining that to the ‘naysayers’ at your owners corporation meeting!

Good consultants attuned to the special needs of strata communities can help you navigate this difficult area whether as the applicant or the objector.

Thank you for TEYS Lawyers for this Article

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