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SHOCK MOVE: COUNCIL OFFICERS EXPAND UNPOPULAR PLUMBING DESIGN REGULATION TO ALL OF REDLANDS! Plumbing officers of Redland City Council have used their ‘independent powers’ to expand the unpopular restrictive plumbing regulation to the entire Redlands. It means that all homes on all islands and in all rural areas not connected to a sewerage system need to abide by the regulation. The new regulation has been instigated by officers of the council only; not the council as a whole. The regulation deems rooms previously designed, listed and used as an office, TV entertainment room or ‘work or project’ room are now to be classified as a bedroom. The changes to the regulations have had a huge impact on the islands and will have similar impact on the rest of the Redlands. The building and plumbing industries are up in arms at the ‘bloody-minded’ decision, as well as people in the process of currently having homes approved with a number of ‘lifestyle’ areas that will no longer be possible. Deputy Mayor Cr Julie Talty has been leading the fight against the new restrictive regulation. “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.” She says it will be even more so on the rest of the Redlands that use septic systems. “It impacts on the style and comfort level of homes, mostly on larger acreage blocks. “Rooms such as TV and entertainment are now common place, but won’t be allowable thanks to this regulation. “Many people, particularly on the islands, now work from home and need an office. “As it stands at the moment, anyone who is currently planning a new home can only include those simple additions if they are prepared to pay an extraordinary amount for extra sewer capacity that for the most part, they will never need,” Cr Talty added. The Deputy Mayor says the move by the plumbing officers has changed ‘the ball game’. “It now affects all the Redlands and brings all other divisions into the issue.” “The motion I prepared and gave notice of some weeks ago was specific to SMBI as I believed the guideline was only being applied to SMBI. “I have now become aware, perhaps because of my objections to the unfair treatment of SMBI residents, that the guideline is being applied to all plumbing applications where connection to sewer is not an option. “I withdrew the motion, but will resubmit a new motion as necessary. “Councillors will be briefed through a workshop in early May and, if necessary. I will bring a new motion to the May general meeting of Council. Cr Talty says her enquiries so far have shown that there has been ‘no change’ in the regulation at State level, and there has been ‘no change’ in the approved policy by Council. “The new guideline that has been applied by the council plumbing department reflects a change in the legal interpretation of the regulation. As we know, interpretations are just that, and are individually subjective, Cr Talty told The Friendly Bay Islander. Information as to how other local government areas do these calculations is expected to be presented to councillors at the May workshop. The Deputy Mayor says there are other fairer, and in her view, more reasonable ways the requirements can be met and she hopes that with an understanding of how those measures might be applied, a more reasonable guideline can be developed. “I believe the current guideline acts from a practical perspective to bring about poorer outcomes both in environmental outcomes from individual decisions by property owners to choose treatment plant options over traditional septic trenching, and quality of, and choice of housing.”

• Julie Talty

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