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PLUMBING REGULATION

PLUMBING REGULATION TO BE SUBJECT OF NOTICE OF MOTION FOR REVERSAL The new plumbing assessment for island homes, which puts a limit on the size and design of future homes on our islands, may soon be the subject of a Notice of Motion for this policy to be reversed. The regulation deems rooms previously designed, listed and used as an office, TV entertainment room or ‘work or project’ room in an island home design, are now to be classified as a bedroom. It is a regulation which does not apply to the rest of the Redlands, and has come via an officers without reference to councillors. Deputy Mayor Cr Julie Talty has indicated she will submit the Notice of Motion, if the matter is not addressed by council plumbing staff. The changes to the regulations have had a huge impact on the islands with the building and plumbing industries up in arms as well as people in the process of currently having homes approved with a number of ‘lifestyle’ areas that will no longer be possible. In a letter from Acting Service Manager Development Control Andrew Mathieson that has been circulated, he attempts to explain the decision by the restrictive changes. It says in part: “ As you are no doubt aware, in recent years the SMBI, has seen an influx of property development which does not appear to be slowing down. At the time of purchase, it the responsibility of the intending purchaser and ultimate property owner to ensure they have carried out their due diligence in understanding the requirements and limitations of living and building on the SMBI. 'The question to be considered by the assessing officer is a question of whether a room, not necessarily designated as a bedroom on a plan, however could potentially be used as a bedroom. “Historically, plans have been submitted with a magnitude of room types ‘bedroom’, ’study’, ‘media’ and ‘ironing’ with each room housing a door that may be closed and in many instances include a closet. In the past, applications have been assessed on the plans only to find that down the track these rooms are in fact being used for the purpose of housing additional persons. “As I am sure you can appreciate, that gives rise to several issues including an undersized onsite sewage facilities and failing systems.” Cr Talty says the process of assessing all closed rooms as bedrooms implies that applicants are ‘lying’ about the intent, and attempting to assess waste water in this way has failed in the past. Council cannot practically or accurately regulate how many people reside in a dwelling. She says a review of the latest Census figures reveal that the average population per household on Russell and Macleay Islands is just 1.9 persons and even lower on Lamb and Karragarra Islands at 1.8 and 1.7 persons. “Clearly, council officers have not given due consideration to the fact this type of assessment was in place some 20 years ago and did not work, and that is why it was discontinued. “There is no reason to implement restrictive building practices when the evidence shows there is no population impact on the majority of island septic systems given the census household occupation figures. “I will be submitting my Notice of Motion at the next appropriate council meeting if council does not address this matter operationally.

• Cr Julie Talty



COUNCIL PLUMBING OFFICERS SAY RATE OF PROPERTY DEVELOPMENT REASON FOR PLUMBING RESTRICTIONS Council plumbing section officers have attempted to explain the reasons for a new regulation that will severely restrict the use and size of homes on our Bay islands. In a letter sent out by way of explanation, Acting Service Manager Development Control, Andrew Mathieson, says council staff are acting in accordance with the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2018 which states the local government authority, of a local government area, is responsible for approving particular types of plumbing and drainage works - permit work, notifiable works and both permit work and notifiable work. The Plumbing and Drainage Regulation 2019 clearly defines each of these types of work permitted to be authorised by the local government entity. They explain: “For the purpose of an on-site sewage facility, works are deemed ‘permit work’ under the Regulation and as such on the Redlands Coast, it is Council that are responsible authority for the approval of on-site sewage facilities.” He says in part: “ As you are no doubt aware, in recent years the SMBI, has seen an influx of property development which does not appear to be slowing down. “At the time of purchase, it the responsibility of the intending purchaser and ultimate property owner to ensure they have carried out their due diligence in understanding the requirements and limitations of living and building on the SMBI. “This includes that the islands are not serviced by a reticulated sewage system and that any property owner will be responsible for the design, implementation and upkeep of an onsite sewage facility. “The question to be considered by the assessing officer is a question of whether a room, not necessarily designated as a bedroom on a plan, however could potentially be used as a bedroom. “Historically, plans have been submitted with a magnitude of room types ‘bedroom’, ’study’, ‘media’ and ‘ironing’ with each room housing a door that may closed and in many instances include a closet. “In the past, applications have been assessed on the plans only to find that down the track these rooms are in fact being used for the purpose of housing additional persons. “As I am sure you can appreciate, that gives rise to several issues including an undersized onsite sewage facilities and failing systems which interferes with the surrounding environment but also surrounding properties. “In order to overcome these issues, reduce harm to the environment and nuisance to surrounding property owners in 2021 Council reviewed its assessment policy in relation to the assessment of onsite sewage facilities. “The revised criteria provides Council’s assessment criteria of onsite sewage facilities and provides the appropriate installation of onsite sewage facilities on the SMBI and on the mainland. “As indicated above, the Plumbing and Drainage Regulation stipulates that Council is permitted to take all relevant and necessary factors into account when assessing a plumbing and drainage application and in Council’s view the performance criteria set out in Council’s revised assessment guidelines are not outside the scope of that permitted under the legislation.”