EXCLUSIVE: TUESDAY, AUGUST 26 UPDATE: Two cubby houses in Perth’s western suburbs have so irked neighbours that costly redesigns may be required to meet the demands of exacting council officials.
The two cubbies will be debated at separate council meetings tonight after neighbours complained about each.
At Talgarth Way in City Beach, Steve and Fiona Hick have applied for retrospective approval of the cubby (pictured above, right) that is located along their back fence.
The Town of Cambridge would not normally need to approve a cubby. But because the cubby is raised half a metre off the ground, located on the property boundary, and a neighbour has raised concerns, the town’s planners requested a development application.
The planners have advised their political masters that the Hicks’ cubby does not satisfy design principles, in part because the structure’s height and zero setback from the boundary would diminish the amenity of neighbours.
Mr Hick has told oneperth.com.au that his rear neighbours engaged a consultant to prepare a 10-page report to sink the cubby which he built for his sons Cameron (10) and Peter (7), and daughter Sophie (3) (all pictured, left).
He said that the main order of business when he moved into his Talgarth Way house in October was to clear the “jungle” which the yard had become.
“You couldn’t get through it with a machete,” he said.
“But when we did, [the neighbours behind] could see the ocean.”
Mr Hick said that added thousands of dollars to the value of the neighbours’ house.
“… and now they slap us with this,” he said.
During the consultation phase for the cubby, the rear neighbour lodged an objection.
The neighbour complained the cubby’s platform was 1.2 metres above ground level, resulting in “unobstructed overlooking” into their backyard and some bedrooms.
“The structure has significantly adversely impacted on our privacy,” the neighbour lamented.
They complained that on several occasions children had accessed their yard and house via the cubby.
“From a liability perspective we believe this access to our property (which has a swimming pool) should be removed,” the neighbour opined.
The town’s planners agree the cubby does result in “overlooking issues” and could pose safety issues vis a vis the pool access.
However, Mr Hick says his children have only ever accessed the rear neighbour’s yard at the invitation of their children who attend the same school and are in the same year.
“Problems of access, privacy and liability etc etc would not be an issue if the complaining neighbours were to agree to a standard 1800mm fence rather than the 1300mm asbestos fence that exists,” he explained.
“Why do they not want to put a standard fence in?
“Because they have suggested that they would lose their ocean view.
“Nothing to do with liability, child access or privacy.
“Their house completely looks into our back yard … full view of pool, kitchen, dining, change room, lounge, patio etc.”
Mr Hick said he got quotes to upsize the fence, which came in at about $1300 a piece, but the rear neighbour wanted none of that.
“I love building cubbies, flying foxes, anything to get the kids off an iPad,” he said.
“But this episode has become very stressful.”
After much debate of the planners’ advice, a town committee has recommended the cubby be approved, but only if it sits entirely within the Hicks’ property, over which there is some question.
At three councillors to two, the committee vote was far from unanimous. The full council will get to debate the cubby again tonight.
MOSMAN PARK KNOCKBACK
Meanwhile at Jameson Street in Mosman Park, after the Montgomerie family applied in December for retrospective approval of the tree house (pictured, right), they are likely to be disappointed by the outcome of another council meeting tonight.
After receiving an objection that claimed the tree house’s wall was obtrusive, and compromised the “green view” from the objector’s property, the Montgomeries pulled their development application and submitted new plans.
One objection has been lodged against the new plans, complaining the tree house will affect views from a neighbouring property.
Contrary to the advice of Erina Parsons, a senior professional planner employed by the town, the elected officials – who are not planning experts – contend that approval of the tree house would be “inconsistent with the principles of orderly and proper planning”.
The committee reasons the bulk, location, building materials and finish of the redesigned tree house would be “detrimental to the local character and amenity of the area”.
The full Mosman Park council will debate the recommended refusal on September 2.