The challenge of interpreting uses and gross floor area in Town Planning Assessment.
Posted June 25, 2020
Our current Town Planning challenge is considering industrial uses and in particular warehousing in wholesaling of bulk food, cleaning and packaging products.
To keep it simple – 1,400m² warehouse, 8m high, with floor to ceiling racks full of toilet paper, bags of rice, flour, sauces etc… you get the picture.
Straight forward maths
Looking at the warehouse you could say with the provision of floor to 7m high ceiling racks, as most of these style of warehouses operate, would give you a storage volume of 9,800m³. Straight forward maths. Of course to get an accurate figure you would take out the access aisles etc, but for this exercise let’s not overcomplicate it.
The challenge now arrives when it is decided to install, within the existing building, a 400m² cold room which is 3m high, for dairy products, seafood, meat and vegetables. On top of the cold room, as it doesn’t reach to the 8m ceiling height of the warehouse, a mezzanine is installed to add more storage for exactly the same products in the rest of the warehouse, cleaning products, packaging etc.
In a volume sense, we still have the theoretical 9,800m³ of storage… but the mezzanine is counted as an additional 400m² of gross floor area/use area (depending on how the planning scheme defines). This has the roll-on effect of requiring the applicant (client) to provide an additional four car parking spaces so you meet the Code Probable Solution requirement (cause god knows no one nowadays looks at the Specific Outcome in the left column) and payment of Infrastructure Charges of $20k+.
Nothing changes… but…
From the outside of the building, nothing changes. Internally it is simply a reconfiguring in the manner in which space is used for this particular activity of warehousing… but depending on the mindset and interpretation of the assessment officer, the outcome can be wide and varied.
The notion of a performance-based planning scheme and framework, paired with reasonable and relevant conditions pertinent to the approval and use being sought, just shouldn’t be that hard. But we are told that “we don’t meet the Code’s probable solutions”, “we have standard conditions to impose” and “what if the use or activity changes?”
I simply say, what if we meet the Specific Outcomes, what if the conditions are drafted specific to the application lodged and what if the use never changes? But then I also see the role of a Planning Scheme to be a document enabling appropriate development to occur in appropriate locations.
I also believe in unicorns and pots of gold at the end of the rainbow.
The prompt advice and expertise of the RG Strategic team at the town planning stage, has allowed us to push forward with our developments far quicker than we had expected, through a far shorter Council approval process, and this has resulted in significant cost savings. This prompt and valuable advice has extended to the operational works and hydraulics requirements of the development, and we look forward to a long relationship with RG Strategic.
The Junction - Coolum
Russell is a fantastic Town Planning Consultant! We are very grateful for his expertise.
Russell recently assisted us with a sensitive development project in Noosa Heads. His advice, negotiation and navigation through the many and at times, complicated regulatory procedures was invaluable. His service was at all times prompt, efficient and he is the consummate professional We could recommend him more highly.
Russell and the team at RG Strategic went above and beyond to ensure a smooth and efficient application and approval process on our townhouse development in Cooroy. Russell helped solve significant stormwater issues by coordinating meetings and correspondence with the Councils engineering team ultimately leading to operation works approval far quicker than our program allowed for. I highly recommend Russell to anyone seeking planning advice on the Sunshine Coast.