A former Rex Street resident is adding his voice to calls for the state government to overhaul complying development legislation.
Darren Churchill describes plans for eight multi-units at 9 Rex Street Bradfordville as "ridiculous" and says people must be given a greater say in their neighbourhood's appearance.
"The town has to grow and expand but it's essential it fits in with Goulburn's character," Mr Churchill said.
"Rex Street has a mix of traditional quarter-acre blocks with a rural feel. To put eight terraces into this area is ridiculous."
The retired local teacher and now Canberra resident lived with his family at 11 Rex Street from 1979 to 1986. Bede and Vonnie Gordon and their family lived next door at number nine. He recalled a happy neighbourhood in which children could happily ride their bikes around. But Mr Churchill believed Mr Gordon would be "turning in his grave" about plans for his former home.
A developer has applied to demolish the house, retain a pool and built eight terraces on the corner site. The application has been lodged under the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Code) 2008. Designed to fast track approvals, it does not require consultation with neighbours and can be signed off by the council or a private certifier. The Rex Street developer has chosen the latter.
Mr Churchill agreed with another Rex Street resident, Tony Hedges, that the policy should be reviewed.
"They've done away with the development application process in this case and there's no avenue for people to object," he said.
"I'm very concerned that the state government can ride roughshod over councils and that they don't have a say either. They justify it by saying it's minor development but it's not; it's a complete knockdown and rebuild."
Residents have been up in arms over the proposal, especially after tall trees were cut down to make way for the terraces in mid December, under a separate council approval.
It is not known whether the private certifier has signed off on the multi-units' construction at this stage. In mid December Waratah Certifiers director Ahmed Abdelrehim said he was still awaiting plans and documentation to undertake an assessment.
Mr Churchill argued the complying development certificates were an avenue for developers to "massage" projects through the system, at the same time removing people's right to object and councils' ability to shape neighbourhood character.
"People bought here in good faith to retire or just live their lives but this new development is crowding them out," he said.
"It's happening all over Sydney and elsewhere and it will affect Goulburn."
Mr Churchill called on the government to review the policy, give people the opportunity to lodge submissions and for reinstatement of an avenue of objection.
He fears that quality architecture will be lost if complying development proliferates.
"If you look at the great architects of Australia, such as Francis Greenway and Edmund Blacket, they designed buildings to last. The State is taking that away," he said.
Meantime, Mayor Bob Kirk said he was no fan of the complying development system but the council had little power.
"The purpose of the legislation was never to deal with regional issues but metropolitan ones, yet we're all tarred with the same brush," he said.
"Here (in Rex Street) we have an example of how it doesn't work. I don't like the fact that the community doesn't get a say."
Cr Kirk said developers were finding ways to achieve outcomes that were not intended by local planning laws but this was unlikely to change until legislation was altered.
"It's ridiculous to change the character of an area by doing that. The next thing it will become commonplace rather than isolated and I think that is an unintended outcome," he said.
"We don't have any control over it and we can't do what the community wants us to do. That is also occurring with granny flats and dual occupancies so we have to find a way to deal with it."
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