Size matters -- Block shock as council shrinks new homes

COUNCIL rules restricting the size of new homes on the Tweed to just half the block of land and banning prominent garages have sent new homebuyers and the building industry into shock.

Builders and real estate agents have warned the rules, which even insist garages be one metre back from the front of the house, will force up typical home costs by $7000 to $12,000, making housing less affordable for many people.

Since the rules came into force two weeks ago, stunned homebuyers have inundated Tweed Shire Council with complaints that they signed building contracts or had plans prepared before the council administrators agreed to the restrictions on April 22.

Many faced the loss of their deposits.

At Tuesday's council meeting, administrators Max Boyd and Frank Willan agreed to ease the hardship by allowing a period of grace, with the rules now to come in effect on June 30.

Yesterday Lance Cotterill, whose plans for a duplex were already knocked back under the new rules because the garage would be too prominent, was "thankful for a bit of grace", but warned the rules did not take into account the needs of residents.

Mr Cotterill, the managing director of Raine and Horne Tweed Heads and marketing agent for the new Seabreeze housing estate at Pottsville, said many people did not want large yards or garages "down the back".

"I don't think they have taken into consideration the demographics of the Tweed," Mr Cotterill said.

"A large proportion of people are retired and don't want large yards to look after. "How do you make a driveway less prominent? And at the end of a cul-de-sac, how do you plan a building with a garage of low prominence?

"They have not taken into consideration the extra cost for setting a garage further back on the block. "Project builders have most of their garages level with the front of the building. This messes the plans up completely."

Mr Cotterill said he not heard of any other council imposing similar regulations although administrator Max Boyd told Tuesday's council meeting "most other councils" had already adopted the rules which followed NSW government guidelines.

The council has argued the new rules are necessary because many new homes are occupying up to 90 per cent of the block, lack space for gardens, and open living areas are too close to neighbours.

Yesterday, Housing Industry Association executive director for the Gold Coast and Northern Rivers Colin Buttenshaw met with senior council officials and said he came away with a promise the new Development Control Plan would be reconsidered.

"In its current form on a standard home it will push the cost up from somewhere between $7000 and $12,000," Mr Buttenshaw said.

"They were quite willing to review any submissions put forward to take the impact off."

Mr Buttenshaw said the industry would be arguing against the increased energy use and need for insulation by reducing concrete slab sizes and had already been successful in having the council rethink a proposal to insist on a 10-metre-high tree in every front yard.

He said that was contrary to CSIRO recommendations which warned trees should be kept away from houses to protect foundations.



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