Today some Council colleagues and I visited The Green Swing. This is a group dwelling with two modest family homes and two apartments, built in a sustainable manner developed by two families. Their intention was to have a 2-story home each and use the two apartments as an income stream. However when a large corner lot went up for sale just 20 metres up the street they sold the apartments to buy it and are now in the process of developing that site in a similar manner.
The trip was inspiring to see the sustainability initiates, but it was also very informative to hear the story of the approvals minefield and bureaucracy. I think we all learned from this and are determined to make what changes the WAPC will allow to make such developments easier in Fremantle.
Some key sustainability points are:
- Good solar orientation,
- Use of thermal mass,
- Plumbed in rainwater,
- Innovative materials such as straw bale construction,
- Reuse of materials destined for landfill,
- Permaculture inspired vegetable garden,
- Double glazing.
Some key planning points are:
- Rigid nature of Residential Design Codes that foster large project homes,
- Difficulty with single strata homes and apartments on the same lot,
- A requirement that the communal garden had to be fenced into 4 sections, one for each dwelling (the fences were on the plans, but someone forgot to erect them).
- The need for 4 storage units, even though the development had ample storage. They got around this by building a storage unit around a rainwater tank (see pic)!
Look at the pictures to see the driveway made from saved bricks, garage doors that do not present to the streetscape, large bike storage, beautiful curvy nature of straw bale construction and loft ladders.
All-in-all an inspiring visit demonstrating people with a vision can get results, but really it should not have been that hard for them.