Rose and Terry Nixon moved from Sydney to Goulburn three years ago to "escape the rat race."
It wasn't just the pace of life that sparked the move but the opportunity for lower density living in a rural setting.
Now a plan to build six three-bedroom, double-storey units on vacant land at 10 Ben Bullen Place, Bradfordville has upset the neighbours, including the Nixons. The area is dominated by established single storey houses.
"It does not fit with the area," Mrs Nixon said.
"...People come here to experience the lifestyle but if you have six more families it will obviously increase density. The developer wants to make money but it shouldn't be at our expense."
However the consultant rejects this is the motivation.
The development application, lodged by Tim Lee Architects on behalf of Brau Investments, has proposed construction of the terraced units on 2090 square metres, which would be accessed via the cul-de-sac at Ben Bullen Place. It also provides for carports, accommodating nine vehicles, and landscaping.
Brau Investments bought the land from Goulburn Mulwaree Council last year. It formerly accommodated a water reservoir but this was removed and a larger one built at nearby Craigs Hill.
Mrs Nixon said she fully appreciated the site would not remain vacant but like neighbours, Bill Drummond and Wayne McKay, argued the plan was 'over development' and that several single-storey dwellings would be more suitable.
One of the units would be three metres from her Samuel Place home, which was accessed via Ben Bullen Place. It would tower almost seven metres above her house, given the raised land.
"Our key concern is the overshadowing and the lack of privacy that will result," she said.
"Even though (the consultant) says they will be small windows, they are overlooking our house. We are all pretty depressed and upset about the change it will bring to the area."
During public exhibition, objectors raised loss of amenity, views, solar access, "insufficient parking' and manoeuvring area, stormwater drainage and increased noise. They were also concerned about the loss of pedestrian access via an easement off Samuel Place, across the land and into Ben Bullen Place.
Neighbour Bill Drummond has lived in Samuel Place for about five years. The units will be built at the rear of his home, fronting his backyard.
His daughter, Gina, who owns the house, has lodged a comprehensive submission raising the above issues but also challenging permissability. The land is zoned R2 low density and a planning provision allows minimum lot size to be reduced from 350 to 300 square metres if there are five or more lots. This is provided it doesn't affect residential amenity.
"There is clearly a desire to by the developer to fit the maximum possible number of dwellings on the proposed lot and to push the development as closely as possible to the property boundary to accommodate this, even if it impacts on surrounding dwellings," she wrote.
Ms Drummond has also challenged the adequacy of setbacks and was unhappy that the units did not face Ben Bullen Place.
Her father feared land values would drop and lamented the trend toward denser development.
"It's a nice quiet neighbourhood and people talk to one another," he said.
"Goulburn is getting busier with more development at Marys Mount and I don't know where kids will have space to play."
However the council has allowed for open space at Marys Mount and recently completed the Riverside Park playground, using developer contributions.
'Listening to concerns'
Mr Lee rejected suggestions the developer was trying to maximise profit and cram in houses.
"The site has been vacant for a long time so there will be concern from residents whenever something is proposed," he said.
"That's why there is a public exhibition process where people have a chance to comment. If there are complaints we will do our best to address them because we don't want people feeling anxious or that they are sidelined."
Mr Lee said he had made it clear to the council he wasn't pushing the boundaries of planning legislation. He told The Post the units complied with the Local Environment Plan and a revised development control plan released in February. The latter outlined setback, bulk, scale and density, number of storeys, privacy, views, traffic safety, solar access and more.
"There is some overshadowing of two houses but it is in line with the (statutory) limit and amenity levels," Mr Lee said.
"We were (also) very conscious of maintaining people's privacy and that's why windows were smaller on the south and the units are set back on the north."
In addition, the entire structure was below the permissable maximum of eight metres.
Mr Lee said the developer originally considered six single houses but it would have resulted in a larger building mass. Though two-storey the terrace style allowed certain heights to be kept lower, using roof pitch and slope.
"(But) we are more than happy to talk to people and if required, we'll adjust things," he said.
A council spokesman confirmed councillors would decide the DA, rather than staff. Eight submissions were received.
"An assessment is underway, and will seek to address the issues that have been raised," he said.
Meantime, Mr Lee said he was receiving up to three enquiries weekly for infill developments on sites larger than 700sqm.
He has redesigned a residential proposal on a large B4 commercial - zoned block behind 62 Verner Street in response to neighbour objections. It initially included three residences and a five-lot community title subdivision across 1600sqm. This will be modified to three residences.
"We had 12 objections and they presented clear and reasoned arguments which we took into consideration," Mr Lee said.
He supported the council's move to rezone some B4 land to R3 residential, particularly around the CBD, which improved people's accessibility and created vibrancy.
Another unit development is underway on the corner of Bradley Street and Fenwick Crescent.
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