soda1Brisbane City Council planning officers have enforced the legal planning scheme against a non-compliant development application (DA) in South Brisbane. Developers are watching this enforcement and subsequent court case will closely.

Some developers have become accustomed to getting their way in South Brisbane that they have marketed and sold units off-the-plan without an approved DA.

This highly questionable practice has been described as “developer Russian roulette” with other players saying “It’s madness. I would not do it. You won’t get any bank to fund [a development] without an approval in place.

“Developer GDL has reportedly sold all 131 units in the “Soda” development to unsuspecting but now fully exposed buyers.

Council’s decision is based on the existing local area plan and sound planning reasons. In pre-lodgement meetings Council outlined inadequacies in the design being prepared by architects Ellivo. Nonetheless the developer’s consultants, Cardno, lodged the non-compliant DA. Ultimately GDL’s have called the shots on this proposal.

Material concerns included the interaction between two high-rise residential buildings across a very narrow laneway, negative impacts from an above ground car-park and doubts about the lifelong maintenance of external vegetation. The local area plan stipulates that all car-parking be below ground.

The prospect of four storeys of above ground car parking undermines safety on the street for citizens and reduces passive surveillance. One developer in particular seems to be getting approvals through that aren’t based on council’s planning regime at all. Developers are arguing its cheaper for them to build above ground car-park regardless of the impacts on safety or future liveability.

GDL is not alone in its high risk property gamble.

In far from orthodox practice, the highly controversial proposal by the Greek Orthodox Church of St George to demolish several buildings including a heritage listed property and Hellenic House in Russell Street for the project “Olympia on Russell” is following a similar tactic.

It is further exposed because City Council’s decision on the demolitions is still pending – they haven’t even got to the DA yet.

It’s hard to accept that due process is being followed if the Greek Church feels confident enough to sell units without either an approval to destroy heritage properties or without a DA approval.

All property buyers contacted by Westender suggest that buyers get the sale contract checked by a lawyer before signing.