2022 candidate for City of Mitcham.
Heritage survey responses.
Do you think that Councils and community members need to have a greater voice in planning and development decisions affecting their local area?
Yes, I do. The new (relatively) Planning & Design Code has taken a lot of decision making power away from Councils and from local communities. During consultation we were told that a greater number of people would be able to have a say, simply because they had seen a sign on the block, but the reality is, as was expected that there are relatively few development applications that can actually be commented upon. Local people should be able to have a greater voice in shaping their local community. They know it better than anyone else. Often they but into the local area because they value what it offers - whether that be the style of housing, the amount of green open space, tree canopy etc. - and it is difficult to see this being eroded by people who see a house as simply a means to make money. For many of us it is the biggest - sometimes only - investment we will ever make, so it is normal to not want to see it devalued.
What role should Councils play in protecting local heritage places from demolition or inappropriate development?
Local heritage places should definitely be protected from demolition. Councils should do whatever it takes to protect them. Additionally, areas with a particular style, or built in a particular era should be protected through demolition controls. Things should also be changed so that investors can't neglect a building to the point where it is no longer economically viable to restore and gain approval for demolition that way.
How would you seek to improve protections for heritage places in your area?
Making people aware that they are actually heritage places is a really effective way to do this - and to explain the reasons for their being recognised as such. Overlays, code amendments to recognise areas with a particular character and demolition controls are all methods that can be used to offer increased protections to heritage places.
We rarely see new places added to local heritage listings. Why do you think this is?
It's quite a process to go through, as I understand it. I suspect that many people feel it is probably something that needs to be done by experts, although in many ways, simply for it to be valued as such by the local community should be enough. Comprehensive local heritage listings mean that more character is preserved, which in turn can lead to areas being draw cards in terms of local tourism, walking tours and so on. People do value much of the amenity offered by Adelaide's older homes. Many regular visitors to the city lament it's loss to infill development. Heritage can be a real draw-card and it has huge benefits both economically and in terms of climate resilience.
How has the Planning and Design Code impacted on the heritage, amenity, and environment of your area? What changes would you seek to the Code?
The PDC has had a significant impact on my area. Homes that contribute to the character of the area are being demolished and replaced with homes that stand out like a sore thumb. Demolition typically sees blocks being clear-felled and the homes that are built on them often cover the vast majority of the block with impervious surfaces. Trees are being removed and not replaced. Approximately 75% of Mitcham is eligible to use the offset scheme to avoid plating a tree as part of a development, so the potential impacts of this alone are enormous. Mitcham is fortunate to have a reasonable amount of open space compared with some other council areas but even Mitcham would struggle to plant all the "replacement" trees required on public land. Increases in hard surfaces and decreases in canopy will significantly impact both the amenity and the climate resilience of the area. I would advocate for demolition controls, for a maintenance fund for trees that provide significant canopy. Ss within Mitcham that have less canopy than the average for our council area should be able to be covered by an overlay requiring more canopy rather than less in a development. The contribution of a tree to the canopy of the council area / suburb should be an important factor, rather than simply looking at the tree as an individual tree. Overlays and code amendments can be used, with approval from the Minister, to deliver better outcomes for the people of Mitcham.
What are the impacts of infill development in your area? What changes would you seek in the rules around infill development?
The impacts are as above. My immediate area has been thumped by initially being put on Residential Code (contrary, I'm told to the recommendation of Council) which saw the area as being full of poorly constructed, post World War II hoes with no character. I can tell you that we have a whole lot less character now, than what we had before! I would like to see existing character maintained. This is often a reason why people choose to purchase in an area. I would like to see controls in place that all development with retention of trees and also that encourage retention of existing homes. The new code talks about single crossovers for 1 into 2 developments, but I'm yet to see one of these. This has a significant impact on available space for street trees, on-street parking and bin collection. The new code also allows private certifiers to approve "minor variations". Infill puts substantial pressure on our aging storm-water infrastructure so surfaces which are not covered in concrete and can absorb water are essential. It would be great to see the balance tipped so that we have more open ground to absorb rainwater.
Construction of new housing typically uses 30% labour and 70% materials. Renovation of existing housing stock typically uses 70% labour and 30% materials. What policy changes would you like to see made to encourage people to renovate, rather than demolish and build anew?
Make it more difficult to demolish! That'd be a start. From a sustainability viewpoint this is important. We can't keep putting building materials to landfill.
How should the community be informed and involved in decisions about new developments?
Signs on blocks are not big enough. They should be advertised more widely and a longer period of time should be allowed for comment to be made.
Do you think there is adequate tree canopy across your local government area?
No, I don't. I know that my council area as a whole has an impressive percentage of cover but we have the National Park and several suburbs with considerably lower canopy than our council average.
How would you like to see significant and regulated trees in your area protected from removal?
The removal of exemptions would be a start. There are the DIT and DECD exemptions, as well as the exemption which states - unless development that is reasonable or expected could otherwise not go ahead. Surely this came in when less infill than we currently see was the norm? This would be a good start.
What involvement should Councils have in decisions about protecting or removing significant and regulated trees?
I think that the State government should set the basic standards that meet best practice and then back councils that wish to go above and beyond these through code amendments, overlays etc. This would enable both staff and councils to meet community expectations.
What actions would you advocate to slow or mitigate the impacts of climate change in your local government area?
I think the solar programme we have is great. EV chargers, improved public transport and community bus services would all contribute. There's evidence that tree canopy makes a huge difference, so retention of this is also incredibly important.
What issues are there with traffic and parking in your area?
Parking in streets around schools is always problematic. We also have some narrow streets and the problems faced by these are often compounded by additional, school traffic and parking (eg: Hillview Road, Thorpe Street, Sheoak Road, Kitchener Avenue, Muggs Hill Road, Rectory Walk, Coreega Avenue and Carrick Hill Drive are particularly problematic, but from my door-knocking across council, it comes up every time there is a school nearby.) This is always worsened when building works occur at schools....
How could transport options be improved in your area?
We need better public transport. It would be great to have smaller buses that can run up Old Belair Road to make the use pf public transport more appealing to people who live there and along Sheoak Road. Expanded cycle ways and better footpaths with good street trees would make for better use of active transport.
What would your top three priorities be for improving planning policy and outcomes in your local government area?
Stronger protections for our natural & built heritage
Greater input by council & locals
The use of overlays & amendments to reflect community priorities