Aria's Breeze development (on right) at Mooloolaba.
Aria's Breeze development (on right) at Mooloolaba. John McCutcheon

Aria says it relied on consultant planner's advice

 ON the eve of Sunshine Coast Council meeting to decide the fate of its Breeze Apartments in Mooloolaba developer Aria has revealed it relied on the advice of its planner in constructing beyond the limits of its development approval.

Aria head Michael Hurley said that advice had been the changes contemplated would be generally in accordance with the existing approval.

Mr Hurley said the rational was that there was no change in height, setbacks, site cover, number of units and no change to three of the four building elevations.

"This was consistent with our previous experiences and we didn't see anything extraordinary in doing so,'' he said.

Mr Hurley said permission was not sought in advance because Aria had only contemplated layout changes once construction had started for only 16 of 58 units prompted by purchaser feedback.

"Seeking a permissible change is a regular occurrence during the construction process as the project undergoes more detailed design,'' he said.

"It should be noted the development is still an active construction site.''

Earlier Sunshine Coast Council planning portfolio head Christian Dickson said all aspects of the Breeze apartments development in Mooloolaba that differ from the original approval should be refused.

Cr Dickson said the rules were the rules, and that was the position he would represent at Thursday's general council meeting that will decide the issue.

The council's planning officers have recommended approval of some of the unauthorised changes made to Aria's development at Mooloolaba but rejected others in a report released publicly ahead of the meeting.

The officers expect the council position will be challenged in the Planning and Environment Court with the cost to ratepayers likely to exceed $50,000.

Cr Dickson said on principle all elements outside the original approval and which are now subject of a permissible change of use application by the developer being considered by the council, should be refused.

"It's not okay to seek forgiveness after the fact,” he said.

"I appreciate that for the most part council officers have refused considerable aspects of the change request.

"It is good to see officers have taken position.”

A planning officers' report to be considered on Thursday has found media/multi-purpose room have been added to 14 of the north facing units fronting the Esplanade, affecting the outside two units on Levels two to seven inclusive, and the outside north-western unit on Levels eight and nine.

"The inclusion of the multi-purpose rooms has affected the internal layout of these units by reducing the area originally shown as living/dining, and is likely to have resulted (in part) in the kitchens extending into the balcony areas,” the report found.

"Although the additional room is intended to be used as a multi-purpose room, this room is capable of being used as a bedroom.”

The planning report said changes built by Aria had been assessed against the planning scheme and while some of the major matters involving the built form were acceptable, some were not.

"In summary, the proposed kitchen extensions into the smallest balconies (eight out of 16 proposed), the multi-purpose room additions related to these particular kitchen extensions (seven out of 14 proposed), and the significant changes to the balustrading are not supported,” the report said.

"The minor matters involving a reduction in visitor parking and removal of an external planting requirement are also not supported.

"It has, therefore, been recommended that council approve part of the changes sought, that is, the kitchen extensions and multi-purpose rooms associated with the units with larger balconies only. This recommendation enables the applicant to proceed with some changes to the development, while still achieving the outcomes sought by the Sunshine Coast Planning Scheme 2014.”

Cr Dickson said the rules were the rules.

"If I am to consistently represent my position, we should refuse all elements (of the changes),” he said.

Cr Dickson said the advice from the independent architects engaged by the council to assess the constructed building against the development approval had confirmed the stance he has taken on the issue was the right position.

OFFICER RECOMMENDATION

That council APPROVE IN PART the Request to Change a Development Approval,

Application No. MCU14/0079.02, situated at 3 Meta Street, Mooloolaba, in

accordance with the following:

(a) approval of the kitchen extensions and multi-purpose rooms associated with

the units with larger balconies only, that is, units 203, 301, 403, 501, 603, 701,

803 and 901 as depicted on the amended plans received with the Request to

Change a Development Approval

(b) refusal of the kitchen extensions and multi-purpose rooms associated with the

units with smaller balconies, that is, units 201, 303, 401, 503, 601, 703, 801 and

903, as depicted on the amended plans received with the Request to Change a

Development Approval

(c) refusal of the changes to the balustrading as depicted on the amended plans

received with the Request to Change a Development Approval

(d) refusal of the proposed change to Condition 33 in respect of visitor parking

and

(e) refusal to delete Condition 17A - the Norfolk Pines condition.

INDEPENDENT ARCHITECT ASSESSMENTS

Architects Deicke Richards, whose directors are John Deicke and Peter Richards, was engaged to provide an independent assessment of the constructed building against the development approval that was granted by the council.

The report found:

Kitchen Extensions

The kitchen extensions are inconsistent with the approval. The outcome for balcony Type

A is in conflict with PO11 of the Multi Unit Res Code which stipulates "a balcony or similar

private open space area directly accessible from the main living area which is not less

than 12sqm in area with a minimum dimension of 3.0m”. It is correct that the approval

locked in a balcony width of approximately 2.35m for Balcony Type A (less than the

AO11.4). However given glazing could be opened for almost the full length of this balcony

allowing the room full exposure to the deck, then the outcome would have maintained a

high degree of amenity, and could be considered consistent with PO11.

The impact of the kitchen extensions on Balcony Type C is also not consistent with the

Purpose and Overall Outcomes of the Multi-unit Res Code as it delivers a useable

balcony area of only 6sqm as the rest can be overlooked and is unshaded.

It is not clear how the applicant can deliver compliance with approval condition 12 and

PO15 for dedicated screen clothes drying areas, given that the walls that they may have

been located on have now been built on. Further information is required on this from the

applicant.

The kitchen extensions do impact on the overall built form appearance as outlined above

and this was an important consideration in mitigating the then impacts of the building.

However, it would be difficult to argue that this impact alone is that much greater than the

approved party walls (between units 1, 2 and 3 on each level) and would create an

impact on the built form sufficient to warrant their removal.

While the solution is not immediately evident, the impact of the kitchen extensions on

user amenity is the predominant issue and one worth defending vigorously. Overall

outcomes 2b, 2c and 2d of the Multi-res Code all reinforce issues of

 Climatically responsive building design;

 Private open space that provides visual relief to built form; and

 High levels of privacy and amenity for residents.

Approving the proposed kitchen modifications would be inconsistent with the intent of the

Multi-Res Code. Council should:

1. Request of the applicants demonstrate condition/code compliant solutions for clothes

drying and all balconies; and

2. Request the applicant model kitchen extension options for Type A and C Balconies

that are more consistent with Type B as a minimum sized balcony; and

3. Request the applicant model kitchen extension materials and colours for Type A and

C that reinforce the horizontal banding intended in the original approval.

And if the revised changes cannot satisfactorily deliver a greater consistency with the

Multi-Res Code then Council should:

4. Consider not approving kitchen extensions on Type A balconies; and

5. Condition colour and materials to kitchen extension on Balcony Type C that reinforce

the horizontal banding intended in the original approval.”

"Balustrading

The balustrading is a critical part of the architectural features of the building. It articulates

the horizontal curves of the floor plan in the vertical dimension, but also delivers a

diagonal ripple effect, which is a subtle but important effect. While not explicitly

mentioned in the DA material, the design of the balustrading accounts for an important

part of the building's design merit, which according to officers mitigated the site cover and

setback issues outlined in PO8 of the Multi Unit Res Code.

As this aspect of the building is reasonably easy to correct, Council should vigorously

pursue the reinstatement of the balustrading. Negotiations with the applicant should seek:

1. Reinstatement of the screen balustrading to achieve the diagonal ripple effect;

2. The use of a larger perforated metal balustrade to deliver the original 'playfulness' of

the building and increase privacy to the balconies; and

3. While it is unrealistic to expect the extent of concrete balcony to be increased,

Council should ensure that any joins between metal and concrete balustrading are

consistent with the curved join in the approved design.”