The next stage was submitting to council for Planning Approval. A required step so council can either say “Yes, we wish you all the best” or “Umm, did you even think about the swift parrot?!”
Yeah, we got the latter.
Seriously though this reason was valid as we are zoned in “Environmental Living Zone” given our proximity to some lovely native bush, something we have no intention on removing or altering, if anything this is an area we will help de-weed and regrow. And the Swift Parrot is endangered thanks to deforestation, illegal logging of protected areas and that cute little baby murderer the sugar glider.
In terms of other stories we had heard about council we thought ourselves lucky. It was just the excruciating way they work, make you pay a decent sum of money and hold you to their own timelines – they have legislated 42 days to grant or deny it – that make for a stressful process. To submit we needed somewhat detailed plans, about the general size of the house, materials used and distance from neighbours and boundaries. Rural regulations often are about trying to keep homes private and not impacting on the skylines or landscape – so a three story home on a ridge line that is very close to your neighbours would be more of a problem. The aim is to keep density sparse to stop too much urban sprawl and a certain vernacular of the area – if only this last one was more true as too many kit homes built in faux homestead/american/english/you name it cheap homes are built in cities and country alike.
Soil and waste water reports were also needed as well as a detailed dispersive soil report due to the type of clays often found in the area. thankfully our clay-upon-clay-upon-clay wasn’t dispersive so footings and waste water systems could be relatively standard. We’ll go into waste water treatment systems later when we get to that stage.
Bushfire Attack Level (aka BAL) rating was also needed and thanks another local source we were able to get ours done by Adam Smee – check out his detailed explanation over here on Andrew’s blog 60K House.
Back to that parrot. Basically the swift parrot clause in the planning scheme (yes there is one!) relates to windows to eliminate bird strike. The way it reads sounds like a room can’t have more than one window (hello bunker!) however in reality there are many factors which can give some wiggle room. Things such as limiting sky reflection – something the awnings over the north facing areas will do by shading the glass. Also having any opening windows covered with fly-screens as required for bushfire regulations helps cut down on reflections. The main issue came with the rear living room entry lining up with the stacking doors onto the deck. As all of these are to be double glazed units this would allow a clear sightline that poor birds might think they can fly through. The solution is to reduced the rear door to a single panel door fitted with fly screen and add a translucent finish to the glass to let light in but not make it look like a bird could fly through it. This satisfied council and we received Planning Approval. Now to aim for the stars and more paperwork and bureaucracy – Building Approval here we come!
Oh, and we still haven’t seen a Swifty.