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Development Application to Orange council seeks to extend granny flat limit by more than 57 percent

May 9, 2023

Plans from the development application.

By Peter Holmes

A development application (DA) to build a granny flat more than 57 percent larger than the current allowable maximum size has been lodged with Orange City Council (OCC).

Known as “second dwellings”, the current maximum set by the state government is 60 square metres.

A block must be over 450 square metres for a second dwelling to be considered.

The application submitted to OCC is for a two-bedroom second dwelling of 94.4 square metres. It is on a large block in Clifton Grove.

Councils have the power to approve granny flats that exceed 60 square metres, but the fact OCC has chosen to put this DA on public exhibition suggests that it may be expecting input from the community.

“The proposal involves the construction of a secondary dwelling towards the eastern boundary of the lot,” council papers state.

“The proposed dwelling comprises two bedrooms, with an attached deck … secondary dwellings are limited to 60m2. The proposed dwelling measures 94.43m2 (excluding the deck).”

The site in Clifton Grove. Google Earth.

A detached single carport is also proposed with a width of 3m, length of 6m and a height ranging from 2.4m to 3.3m.

The total area of the living space (94.4m2), porch (2.5m2), timber deck (17.4m2) and carport (21.6m2) is 135.9m2.

The applicant is seeking a “Clause 4.6 variation (Orange Local Environment Plan 2011)” to “vary this maximum standard”.

The DA notes the 60-square-metre maximum and states: “Given the conflicting provisions that apply throughout the LGA for this type of development and having regard to Council’s consideration of other similar applications, the proposed development relies on a variation to the maximum floor area.”

It says the second dwelling would have two bedrooms with ensuite to one bedroom, open plan kitchen/living zone, study nook, laundry, timber deck and entry porch.

Town water would be connected to the granny flat, and effluent disposal would “be undertaken on-site in accordance with On-Site Sewage Management for Single Households … telephone and electricity services are available for connection”.

It states that stormwater not captured on site for water supply purposes would be returned to the rural catchment “in a non-erosive manner”.

The land is on the southern end of the cul-de-sac at the end of Rossi Drive, Clifton Grove, northeast of the CBD.

The land - 2.98 hectares - is zoned R5 Large Lot Residential and currently houses a dwelling in the northwest corner; a water tank; a garden shed and a two-bay garage at the rear; and a shed currently under construction just to the east of the proposed site of the secondary dwelling.

According to the DA part of the land “falls within a defined area of naturally occurring asbestos … Accordingly, the proposed development will be subject to categorisation by Council as being of either Low or Medium disturbance and will be required to undergo the appropriate procedures … Recent development in the area indicates that this is not a significant constraint.”

A selection of granny flats from Backyard Grannys.

The land size is far greater than average suburban blocks, meaning the second dwelling would take up a far smaller percentage of the block than a 60-square-metre granny flat in Orange suburbia.

However R5 Large Lot Residential have their own limitations.

According to Orange’s 2011 Local Environment Plan, the objectives around Clifton Grove include:

  • Provide residential housing in a rural setting while preserving, and minimising impacts on, environmentally sensitive locations and scenic quality.

  • To ensure that large residential lots do not hinder the proper and orderly development of urban areas in the future.

  • To ensure that development in the area does not unreasonably increase the demand for public services or public facilities.

  • To provide for student housing in close proximity to the Charles Sturt University.

The DA accepts that “a secondary dwelling is not permissible in the R5 Large Lot Residential Zone; however … secondary dwellings are permitted with consent in the R5 Large Lot Residential Zone … The development consent of Council is therefore required.”

Multiple housing booms since the late 1990s, and the current inflationary pressures that are driving up cash (and mortgage) rates, have pushed the dream of home ownership out of reach for many.

However the 60-square-metre limit restricts granny flats, ensuring they don’t simply become a second house on the block.

The option of building a granny flat or secondary dwelling in a backyard to house older parents or young adult children is becoming increasingly popular.

In a 2018 report for lobby group The Property Council, researcher Rebecca Huntley said the period 2018 to 2028 would be marked by a change in attitudes by Australians to "multi-generational housing".

The second dwelling's design, per OCC papers.

Huntley said that in some migrant communities, such as the Italian-Australian area where she grew up, "everyone had a granny flat out the back and four generations coexisted in one family home”, but that "there was an antipathy among people from Anglo-Australian backgrounds to more than two generations living in the same house".

But, she said in the report, “We have more migrants coming from countries where housing arrangements are very different. And this will change the way we live."

The company Backyard Grannys sells a variety of second dwellings, from one to three bedrooms. It manages to keep them under 60 square metres, but there’s no such thing as a free lunch - for every extra bedroom placed in the design, potential space disappears from another room.

The development application is on display until May 23, 2023. You can see the DA here.

Do you support the 60sqm limit on granny flats?

  • Yes

  • No

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