Top town planner sounds an alarm

A LEADING town planner has raised concerns over proposed rules on housing in established Warwick streets, saying homeowners will have no right to object to duplexes.

Local resident and consultant planner Jamie Mackenzie has called for duplex regulations in the new draft planning scheme for the region to be altered to force developers to put duplex plans on public display.

As the draft scheme stands, applications for duplexes on streets of predominantly single established homes will be decided by council officers, giving existing residents no right of objection or legal appeal.

With public submissions on the new scheme - which would replace the Warwick and Stanthorpe town plans in the new year - due to close on Friday, Mr Mackenzie yesterday issued a warning to owners of single homes in residential areas.

"If I lived in an established neighbourhood in Warwick or Stanthorpe, I'd be worried," Mr Mackenzie said.

"Under the new town plan, you could wake up to duplexes going up next door with no right of objection.

"Providing a greater mix of housing is important, but I note under the new planning scheme it is possible to have streets and streets of duplexes side by side on 800 square-metre lots without public objection.

"I don't think that's what most families want to dominate."

Mr Mackenzie, who has been a town planner in Queensland for more than 25 years, said there could be "good or bad neighbours at any density, but people like to know what can be expected in their street".

He said in the past decade major objections to medium-density housing projects in newly established residential areas had been put forward in Warwick, including around Bernecker and Willow Streets, east Warwick and in Glennie Heights.

"As it reads, Warwick could also lose its streetscape identity of lovely big old homes close to town in the new plan," Mr Mackenzie said.

"The proposed Residential Living Zone can be likened to the traditional Residential A zone for areas of detached single family houses, and the new Residential Choice Zone as a mix of houses, units and motels.

"Council needs to change the draft scheme to ensure detached houses dominate in Residential Living.

"A simple policy of at least two standard house lots between each duplex works well in Toowoomba.

"Any higher-density development should be open for public submissions and the public should have a right to make comments."

Council response tomorrow.

Not sure which zone your home is in? Check out the draft planning scheme online at www.southerndowns.qld.gov.au or at the council offices in Warwick and Stanthorpe.



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