By Joanne Warren - on behalf of Huskisson Heritage Association
Great news for all those who have navigated the treacherous minefield of DA's to build a granny flat, put in an extra room for a growing family or the myriad of reasons why we tweak our homes. This can indeed be a nightmare experience and are great anecdotes to entertain others and at times scare them off any thoughts of that extra bedroom.
Take heart! If you are a major developer it would seem that the onerous DA conditions are merely guidelines and seem to be an opt in or out scenario. The DA conditions for the church hall regarding the photographic survey are listed below;
DA18/2102, Shoalhaven City Council, 4 June 2019.
Submission of Photographic Survey
Prior to the commencement of relocation and demolition works, a photographic survey of the church and hall shall be submitted to Council. The photographic survey shall be prepared in accordance with the guidelines "Archival Recording of Heritage Items Using Film or Digital Capture" published by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage.
One hard copy and one electronic copy of the Photographic Survey shall be submitted in an unbound report format.
Reason: This condition is imposed to accurately record the details of the building, it’s condition and to inform future decision making.
The intent of these conditions seem to be very clear but now it would seem that the DA wording according to SCC was deemed to be ambiguous and only a guildeline.If Council puts a condition on your DA you are required by law to adhere/comply to that condition. For instance if Council tells you the granny flat you wish to build has to be 1.5mt away from the fence and you build it 1mt away from the fence, the Council will order you to demolish the structure and you must rebuild 1.5mt from the fence. I am sure this may resonate with many readers.
The council response states that the building is not of local, state or Commonwealth heritage significance but we know that the backstory to this glib statement is a long history of pro development Councillors ensuring that any listing at any level of this property would not happen. The request to list this as a Local Heritage site has been made on a number of occasions by the State Heritage Office and has been strongly opposed by the Council majority to not impede the long held plans by the Anglican Church to sell off the property. Indeed the site was covered by a State Heritage Interim order for a short period during 2018/2019.
The report on the breach of this DA made by Margot Curtis and Dr Shirley Fitzgerald was thorough and professional. It had clear evidence of a breach to DA conditions and would have been enough to halt progress on any residents building. As residents of the Shoalhaven this must be of great concern with the frantic push to allow large DA's to be fast tracked in the current Covid climate. We must continue to be vigilant in scrutinising the way in which large developers are accommodated so they don't face the impediments of rigorous DA conditions that the likes of you or I would need to meet.
This is by no means the end to this and Huskisson Heritage Association will be continuing to push back to save this site from further destruction and readers may in the meantime be inclined to check their own DA conditions and clarify with SCC whether these are mandatory or simply suggestions you might like to follow.
If you would like more details about the report and the council response please contact us at huskissonheritage@gmail. or check out our facebook page https://www.facebook.com/savehuskychurch or website huskissonheritage.com.au for the history of this site and the campaign.