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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 7 Hansard (20 June) . . Page.. 2236 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

a minimum block size of 700 square metres, and heightened design and siting conditions to protect neighbourhood character.

The Labor government implemented most of these recommendations, apart from stopping unit titling, but it did impose a 100 per cent betterment tax on dual occupancies. This slowed the rate of dual occupancies for a while, but after the Liberal government came in the betterment rate was reduced to 50 per cent and conditions applying to dual occupancies were loosened up, leading to the steady increase in the number of dual occupancies in existing areas that we see now.

Dual occupancies were certainly an issue when the LAPACs were established in 1995, but the government specifically excluded dual occupancies from the range of applications that were referred to LAPACs for comment. This was despite the fact that applications for dual occupancies are publicly notified and third party appeal rights are available, because there was recognition by government that dual occupancies can have a significant impact on their neighbourhood. In theory, individual members of LAPACs could provide comments to PALM on particular dual occupancy proposals, but the committee as a whole could not.

In speaking to members of the original LAPACs who queried the exclusion of dual occupancy, it appears that the key reason for their exclusion given by the planners was that there was a concern that it would have generated too much work for the LAPACs and the support staff within PALM because there were so many applications for them.

I certainly would not claim that the LAPACs are an ideal consultation mechanism on planning issues. There are some real problems with them in terms of the balance of their membership, the amount of work they have been given relative to the meagre resources they are provided from PALM, the lack of time they are given to review applications, and the minor effect the LAPACs have on the final decisions of PALM. One gets the strong impression that the government set up the LAPACs as a tokenistic attempt in public consultation to reduce public disenchantment with the developer-driven planning in this town. However, I think the concept of LAPACs is sound and can be redeemed with increased resourcing and commitment from government. I will certainly be pushing Mr Corbell, when he is planning minister at the end of the year, to revamp the LAPACs.

In the meantime, though, I think it is quite valid to refer dual occupancies to LAPACs because they are a controversial type of development and there are many examples of poorly designed dual occupancies that are quite intrusive on surrounding houses. It is not only individual applications for dual occupancies that need to be reviewed, but also there is a need to monitor the overall number and distribution of dual occupancies across particular suburbs.

The Lansdown review raised the idea that there could perhaps be locational restrictions on dual occupancies-for example, only within a certain distance of local centres or only allow a certain proportion of dual occupancies within neighbourhoods that are predominantly single houses. These ideas have not been progressed by PALM, but I think they still have value in the development of more sensitive urban consolidation policies.

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