March 2018 | Sharon Webb
BLACKSTONE HEIGHTS residents have had a win in the fight to keep their suburb a low density residential zone. Meander Valley Council has refused permission for a Blackstone Heights resident to subdivide his property into two blocks because the change would be out of character with the surrounding development and impact on the amenity of surrounding residents.
The move may set a precedent for other Blackstone Heights residents wishing to subdivide. Councillors rejected the advice of their planner, siding with several objectors wishing to keep their semirural outlook.
But they were unable to accept an important argument put by objectors to the subdivision: that long-standing covenants on all blocks in Blackstone Heights prevented subdivision. Meander Valley Council planner Leanne Rabjohns said her legal advice was that a covenant was an agreement between landowners, not council.
“Unless there is a specific clause in the planning scheme that requires assessment of a covenant, council cannot consider a covenant,” she wrote in advice to council.
Instead of considering the covenant, councillors found that subdividing the property would affect the amenity of Blackstone Heights residents, defined as “…in relation to a locality, place or building, any quality, condition or factor that makes or contributes to making the locality, place or building harmonious, pleasant or enjoyable”.