Bye bye backyard

Sadhana Constructions’ application to put three two-storey dwellings on one block in Leederville.

THE slow death of suburban backyard life is being sealed brick by brick, with another development proposal in Leederville decried as “heartbreaking” and marking the end of a leafy outlook, nude sunbaking, and backyard privacy.

The trio of two-storey group dwellings planned for 14 Franklin Street isn’t the biggest in the ‘burb, but neighbours say the impact will be enormous as they’re faced with an imposing two-storey brick wall and windows peering into their backyards.

Heartbreaking

Neighbour Craig Belcher attended this week’s Vincent council briefing asking councillors not to approve it, saying if it’s built he’ll have to “sit in my backyard and look at a two-storey brick fence. It breaks my heart”.

He supports some development on the site but this one’s outside planning rules on a few points so will need council discretion; it’s closer to neighbours than what’s usually allowed, and the density is above the standard R30 lot.

Although the planning report says amendments have “effectively reduced” the impact on neighbours, Mr Belcher disagreed: “Let me tell you this devastates my way of life, my wife’s way of life. She’s devastated at this,” he told the council.

“This absolutely devastates me… To use words in the report like it says, quote: ‘no significant impact’, that totally disgusts me. Surely we need to do something about this.”

Near neighbour Paul DiLanzo said the development will mark the end of four decades of enjoyment in his backyard. “I’ve lived in the street since 1981 and I don’t want people looking in my backyard. I sunbake in the nick, I swim in the pool in the nick, and now I’ve got bedroom windows that are going to look straight into my backyard.”

The project’s planner, Urbanista’s Steven DePiazzi, told the council an earlier draft plan was redesigned after proving unpopular.

“The building is actually very visually attractive now,” he said, and it “significantly contributes to the streetscape, and we also believe it doesn’t really have any undue impact on an R30 coded residential area where this type of development would be expected”.

The existing house, described as “dilapidated” in the council report, belongs to regular Voice correspondent Vincent Sammut, former owner of North Perth’s Books Etcetera. It was built around 110 to 120 years ago and Vincent council assessed its heritage value in 2006 but it was not heritage listed. 

The assessment noted it had “considerable rarity value” but that “the aesthetic value has been diminished by the fair to poor condition of the place”. 

Neighbours say they support some more modest development on the site, and Mr Belcher said “I totally support what the council’s been doing with the Leederville Masterplan”, which allows bigger developments in some parts but keeps it low-key in the more residential areas. 

Councillors decide whether to approve the trio of buildings at the July 27 meeting.

by DAVID BELL

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