Neighbours split over plans for modern home in a heritage area | Poll

NO THANKS: Neighbours Suzanne Ryan and Margaret Ling have objected to plans for an ultra-modern home to be built between their two 1800s houses. Photo: CHRIS SEABROOK
NO THANKS: Neighbours Suzanne Ryan and Margaret Ling have objected to plans for an ultra-modern home to be built between their two 1800s houses. Photo: CHRIS SEABROOK

AN ultra-modern brick, timber and iron house is to be built on a nine-metre wide vacant block between two homes dating back to the 1800s in Piper Street.

Bathurst Regional Council approved plans for the Tony McBurney-designed home during a sometimes heated meeting on Wednesday night.

The two neighbours either side of the narrow block, Suzanne Ryan and Margaret Ling, both spoke passionately against the new home being approved.

The neighbours said the proposed home was out of character with the heritage area and raised concerns including overshadowing, loss of privacy and views, the impact of excavation on their properties and a carport planned to be built in front of the home.

But applicant Cindy Fox, who will live in the home with her husband David and young children, told council they had be keen to work with their neighbours to address their concerns.

The carport had been proposed for the front of the home because a previous design that would have seen a garage built under the home had been shelved because neighbours objected to a two-storey building.

“My husband and I have lived in Bathurst basically our whole lives and we are interested in being part of this community, not imposing on our new neighbours,” Ms Fox said.

“We approached Tony McBurney and asked him to design something that was beautiful, unique and ecologically sensitive for not only ourselves but hopefully also our neighbours to enjoy.”

Ms Fox said they always knew there would be challenges in building on a block that was only nine metes wide and 80 metres deep but throughout the design process they were conscious of limiting the impact on neighbours.

Ms Ryan, whose 1897 heritage-listed home Hillcrest stands beside the vacant block, said the proposed design should not be allowed in a heritage conservation area.

She said the maximum roof height of 6.2 metres was too high, she would suffer a loss of views if the house was built and the design would run almost fence-to-fence, with just 900mm between the walls and fences at each side.

Ms Ryan said she had petitioned surrounding residents and there was unanimous opposition to the proposal.

She said plans to build the carport in front of the home did not comply with council’s own planning rules, though acting environmental, planning and building services director Janet Bingham later said council had the power to vary that requirement on a case-by-case basis.

Ms Ling, who lives in an 1875 brick cottage on the other side of the vacant block, said the modern design would be “visually jarring” in that section of Piper Street.

“There’s a place for modern architecture in Bathurst but not when it degrades the surrounding area,” she said.

She labelled the proposed home a “monumental, monolithic presence”.

Modern home in a heritage zone

Councillors debate merits of modern design

A MODERN home to be built in a heritage conservation area in Piper Street would add a new chapter to more than 200 years of building design in Bathurst, Councillor Monica Morse has told her colleagues.

Cr Morse was speaking in support of the Tony McBurney-designed property at Bathurst Regional Council on Wednesday night.

She said she had lived in Bathurst for more than 30 years and had shown a great commitment to heritage through both the properties she bought and her work with heritage groups, but that heritage was not just about “old things”.

“I wouldn’t particularly want an ugly building next to my house but I don’t think this is an ugly building,” she said.

“I understand the neighbours’ preference would have been to not have this house or any house built there, but they could’ve had a two-storey fake heritage design instead which would have been much worse.

“If we allow fake heritage homes to be built across the city we will end up looking like a film set.”

Cr Morse said Bathurst was rightly proud of its architecture from the past but said it was time to start talking about the architecture of the present.

“The development of this design has been a great example of consultation with neighbours and council’s planners and heritage advisers,” she said.

“We should embrace this and in the future this home could become a showcase of what can be achieved in a heritage area. 

“It might one day be known as the ‘McBurney house’.”

But Cr Bobby Bourke asked what was the point of a heritage conservation area if council was willing to allow any home designs to be built there.

He said a carport planned to be built in front of the house did not comply with council’s own planning rules and he feared allowing the home could set a precedent in other heritage areas.

Cr Ian North said he appreciated a young couple had bought the difficult block with a vision of building on it but he struggled to come to terms with allowing a non-compliant carport as part of the plans.

In the end, the development application was approved by a single vote.

Mayor Graeme Hanger voted with deputy Michael Coote and councillors Morse and Warren Aubin to approve the DA while councillors Bourke, Greg Westman and North voted against.

NARROW VICTORY: The nine metre-wide block stands between two homes that date back more than a century.

NARROW VICTORY: The nine metre-wide block stands between two homes that date back more than a century.