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Flood management simplified

Amendments to policies and development controls will make it easier for Northern Beaches residents to manage flood risk and save them money when they develop their land.

Council is simplifying requirements for flood-prone sites, which affect an estimated 15,000 properties from Palm Beach to Manly – with the majority on the upper peninsula.

Council GM Environment & Infrastructure Ben Taylor explained the three former councils differed in their approach to flood risk management, resulting in varied experiences and outcomes for residents and businesses.

For residents of the former Pittwater, the changes mean that some buildings such as sheds, carports and swimming pools will be exempt from flood requirements. Other minor development such as minor additions or internal alterations may not require detailed consulting reports or building a new place to shelter, depending on the level of risk at the property.

Designer Kinga Monaghan from Blue Sky Building Designs at Newport welcomed the move.
“I worked on a project where owners in North Narrabeen were trying to get approval for a small alteration and addition – they called me because their original designer had been unfamiliar with the council require-ments,” Kinga said.

“The DA conditions shocked them; they had to relocate the electrical work above the FPL (flood planning level) and build the extension 600mm higher than the rest of the house. Plus they had to make sure that the existing house was flood-proof.

“The owners decided to start again – the second time mainly just internal alterations and replacement of some windows into sliding doors. But to comply, we had to propose a shelter – an attic that could be accessed in case of flood.”

Kinga said that despite never having experienced flooding in their 15 years’ residency, the owners paid double the cost of a standard process and had to wait a frustrating two years.

“Designers understand the requirements for larger developments but for the small projects it's not necessary,” she said.

“Simplifying the application process and not requiring the flood report can save 2-3 weeks’ preparation time – and even around $3,000 before the DA is even lodged.”

Council will arrange one-on-one information meetings for residents on request; call 1300 434 434.

* Northern Beaches Living feature – P29.

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