Page 2117 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 2 August 2016

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I have also instructed the Planning and Land Authority to continue to work with the community and industry representatives to develop a suitable solution to optimise the current solar access rules in existing areas. It is important to remember that none of the rules increase the amount of sun falling on the earth. Any changes relating to existing areas will be subject to a separate territory plan variation. It is important also to note that these rules are about how we share the sun among our neighbours.

I am satisfied that the issues raised during the extensive consultation process have been adequately addressed. As such, I did not feel it necessary to refer the draft variation to the Standing Committee for Planning, Environment and Territory and Municipal Services. Variation 346 will provide improved solar access outcomes for new residential developments along with improved amenity. They will also allow more efficient use of blocks and better environmental outcomes. These outcomes will be achieved while protecting reasonable solar access for surrounding properties. The variation is anticipated to reduce building costs, reduce delays and improve housing affordability in the territory.

I now move:

That the Assembly take note of the paper.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (3.28): I welcome the opportunity to speak briefly to this variation because solar access is an issue the Greens have taken great interest in. Implementation of variation 306 led to the introduction of solar access requirements. While this has been received positively by many in the community, secure in the knowledge that their home would not be overshadowed, concerns have been raised by some in the sector, particularly builders and architects. They maintain that the solar access provisions have resulted in perverse outcomes where builders have been digging their houses into the ground to avoid overshadowing the neighbours to the south and moving their houses to the north of the blocks, reducing the amenity of their own outdoor areas.

While variation 306 protected the neighbour’s solar access it did not guarantee that the solar access was actually utilised by the home builder. Apart from some examples of homes buried in the shade, there were also examples of inadequate northern glazing to take advantage of the sunlight. An important amendment in variation 346 is a requirement for a minimum amount of north-facing glazing. There will now have to be a minimum of four square metres of transparent north-facing glazing to a daytime living area.

Concerns were raised about building tolerances which can increase the amount of overshadowing in addition to the solar fence, and I understand this will be addressed through regulation. Concerns from residents in existing areas have meant that the variation will apply to new suburbs rather than existing suburbs. While I would usually think it is not ideal to have different rules in different parts of the city, this should give greater flexibility to architects and builders in greenfield areas.

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