Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 4 Hansard (20 April) . . Page.. 1017 ..
MS TUCKER (continuing):
I am glad that the new urban housing code in the draft variation has protected the solar access of existing blocks. A major problem with medium-density housing is overshadowing and careful design is required to overcome it. Unfortunately, we have not yet seen good examples in Canberra of medium-density housing using passive solar design principles because, by nature, adequate spacing between buildings and good orientation of units towards the north are required to stop overshadowing, which conflicts with the developer's traditional desire to cram as many units as possible onto a block. For the benefit of all residents in the inner north and to protect the garden city character of Canberra, we do need to tone down the demands of developers to maximise their developments. I do not think anyone wants to go back to the B1 zone; so, in the interim, it may be necessary to adopt this plan variation to provide a bit more certainty to residents and developers. However, the Government should not think of this as being the end of the story. There will still be arguments over specific development proposals in this area and I will certainly continue to monitor the situation to ensure that the existing residents are treated fairly and that the urban environment in this zone is not further degraded.
I have also had concerns expressed to me about whether section master plans can override the housing code. That is what I was talking to Mr Corbell about when it became my turn to speak. I am not quite sure what the committee said there, but I would want to have it on the record that that needs to be monitored very carefully. It is, obviously, useful to have some flexibility. I noticed in, I think, section 59 in Braddon that a different approach was taken in the section master plan from what the urban housing code would require because of the solar access consideration. Obviously, you cannot argue with that. On the other hand, if section master plans can override the urban housing code, we would have to wonder how much value there would be in having that as a guarantee for quality. Maybe the Minister can comment on that or another member of the committee can address it.
MR CORBELL: Mr Speaker, I seek leave to speak again briefly.
MR CORBELL: Thank you, members. Mr Speaker, there was a comment which I did intend to make in my speech and which I neglected to make. I would just like to raise it briefly. It relates to the relationship between the section master planning process and the urban housing code. That is an issue that the committee considered quite closely, and the view of the committee is stated in the report. I will draw Ms Tucker's attention to it. It appears on page 8 of the report, at the bottom. I will read it out:
... in relation to the interaction of a section master plan and the Urban Housing Code, the committee views the latter as the benchmark for good design; and that the Code should only be overridden by a section master plan where the overall design outcome is of a higher standard than would otherwise be achieved by strict application of the Code.
I think that is a very important statement. It makes very clear the committee's contention and understanding in relation to section master plans and the urban housing code. We certainly had a lot of evidence put before us that there did need to be flexibility to