Page 3456 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 23 September 2015

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This issue could be avoided with more intelligent design for the site, or if people want to build a very large home they need to choose a more appropriate block. They may need a larger block or could choose a block that is not impacted by the solar access requirement; for example, if there is a road to the south rather than a neighbouring house. There is an important role for developers to communicate to purchasers what sort of house can fit on each particular block, and purchasers need to be able to choose a block that is appropriate for the size and type of house they intend to build.

The building industry also needs to adapt to changing conditions. Apart from the solar access requirements, many of the new developments in Canberra are on steeper slopes and block sizes are tending to get smaller. In many areas the days of just putting down a concrete slab on a flat block and building a standard house are over. Builders and architects need to put more thought into design and construct houses that suit the particular block and topography.

I have taken particular interest in observing the outcomes of the solar requirements in the new suburbs and in talking to residents. It is worth noting that many residents are extremely grateful that their homes cannot be overshadowed by a neighbour to the north, and that is what this policy is about. They do not necessarily come knocking on the door of MLAs, like some of the industry groups, when they want to express their gratitude. That said, solar requirements have now been in place for long enough in some suburbs, like Coombs and Wright, and it is time to review the impacts and identify some lessons and areas for improvement in future estates.

When designing an estate, there are a wide range of considerations including topography. Compact blocks should be developed where possible on the flatter land, leaving steeper sections for larger blocks. Where possible, blocks should have longer northern and southern boundaries to facilitate the construction of solar passive houses. Although in very compact housing, rows of attached houses such as terraces can be created with longer eastern and western boundaries, ideally located on flat areas.

Corner blocks need to be considered slightly differently. Corner blocks with a north-facing long boundary need to be deeper to allow for minimum setbacks for secondary street frontages. Corner blocks with a south-facing long boundary can be shallower as any overshadowing would be on a street rather than a neighbour to the south.

It is not always possible to have east-west running house blocks, and sometimes there will be building blocks that face north or south. To ensure reasonable solar access in these circumstances, the blocks with the northern aspect could be wider than the blocks with a southern aspect to ensure there is sufficient room for both garages and sunlight to north-facing living areas.

I have seen examples of narrow blocks facing the street to the north where, unless accessed by a rear lane, they are dominated by a double garage and a front door, gaining little benefit from the solar access. These blocks, therefore, need to be wider to allow for sunlight for north-facing living areas. By contrast, blocks facing the street to the south can be narrower, with a double garage and front door in the shade, with sunny living areas facing north overlooking the backyard. In some situations,

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