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Tuesday, 10 September 1985
Page: 389

(Question No. 55)

Senator Archer asked the Minister representing the Minister for Territories, upon notice, on 27 February 1985:

(1) How often has the National Capital Development Commission approved building plans which were outside the NCDC's own guidelines for each year since 1973.

(2) Has any such decision to approve building plans which were outside the NCDC's guidelines been in each case:

(a) subject to the agreement of all parties concerned; and/or

(b) challenged by any of the parties affected by such decision; if so,

(i) how long has each such challenge taken to resolve,

(ii) did any decision involve the NCDC accepting responsibility for decisions taken by it, and

(iii) did the settlement of any such challenge involve the Commonwealth in the payment of damages, if so, in how many cases and how much in each case.

(3) Are there any outstanding disputes concerning decisions about building plans; if so:

(a) how many cases are outstanding;

(b) how long has each case been under consideration; and

(c) when will each case be resolved.

(4) What action has the NCDC taken to ensure that its officers do not make decisions which are outside its guidelines.

Senator Gietzelt —The Minister for Territories has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) The National Capital Development Commission's Design and Siting Policies contain stated objectives or performance standards and allow for some small discretion in the application of quantitative standards where the objectives or performance standards of the policies are met. The policies are therefore not inflexible regulations.

When building plans have been approved by the Commission as to design and siting they are assessed by the Department of Territories for building approval. Structural alterations internal to buildings are a matter for the Department and are not subject to the Commission's Design and Siting Policies.

From approximately 120,000 Design and Siting applications received since 1973 it is believed that only five applications have been approved which could be considered to be outside the objectives of the Design and Siting Policies.

(2) (a) and (b) In all five cases, complaints were received either from neighbours or from nearby residents. One case has been the subject of legal action.

(i) In two cases the Commission was able, in consultation with the respective applicants, to resolve the matters expeditiously. In one other case the Commission was, over an approximate two month period, successful in obtaining the `in principle' agreement of the applicant lessee to modify a structure to lessen its effect. The matter has yet however to be finally resolved. In the remaining two cases no corrective action could be taken by the Commission and the complaints remain unsatisfied. One of these last cases is the subject of a claim for damages that is not yet settled. The matter has been proceeding for some six years.

(ii) Yes.

(iii) No payment of damages to settle a dispute over a Design and Siting approval has been made by the Commonwealth.

(3) (a) There are currently two disputes awaiting resolution through appeal to the Design and Siting Review Committee established pursuant to the ACT Buildings (Design and Siting) Ordinance 1964.

(3) (b) One application for review was lodged with the Design and Siting Review Committee on 19 February 1985; the other at a subsequent date.

(3) (c) The resolution of appeals is a matter for the Design and Siting Review Committee.

(4) Professional officers are trained in the application of the Commission's Design and Siting Policies and are required to reach a high level of competence prior to being delegated the authority to deal with applications. In addition, delegates are required to report to their respective supervising officers weekly.