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A house for more than just granny

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Will Hunter, Yorke Peninsula Country Times

Granny flats across the state can now be rented to anyone, following recent changes to the State Planning Practice Directions.

Minister for Planning Nick Champion wrote to the State Planning Commission to prompt changes which stopped councils from being able to limit the leasing of ancillary dwellings to immediate family members only.

While previous planning rules did not prohibit granny flats from being leased to tenants outside of the immediate family, councils were able to add conditions to development approvals which prevented such arrangements.

Mr Champion said the government wanted to give property owners with granny flats the opportunity to offer their additional dwelling to the broader community.

“This reform makes it crystal clear ancillary dwellings can be an affordable rental option with minimum housing standards in place,” Mr Champion said.

ShelterSA executive Alice Clark welcomed the changes and said it was important local councils were in step with the updated rules.

“This is a good move — it is long overdue to clarify (who granny flats can be rented to),” Ms Clark said.

“I don’t think it will suddenly cause dozens or hundreds of people to order a granny flat to be built in their backyard, but it might be seen as an alternative source of income for homeowners to supplement their mortgage (payments).”

Frustrations grow

Brian Austin-Smith is calling for the state’s Planning and Design Code to allow for more ancillary accommodation approvals which could help solve South Australia’s housing crisis.

The Lameroo local recently bought a block of land in Wallaroo with the vision of building his dream home, along with a granny flat for his 85-year-old mother with dementia.

However, Mr Austin-Smith said he had grown increasingly frustrated after experiencing complexities in trying to secure approval.

“I was told when I submitted my initial plans my mother’s granny flat could contain a kitchen, or bathroom with toilet, but not both,” Mr AustinSmith said.

“I understand the granny flat needs to be reliant on the house for utilities such as power, water and septic, but it was frustrating to be told my mother had to choose between these areas.

“The distance between the main dwelling and the granny flat was also limited to 10 metres which is quite close on a hectare block — we wanted 20m to 30m so we could have a bit of space to create a back garden area but this was out of the question.

“I also asked for an additional four square metres over the maximum 60sqm limit to account for future wheelchair access for my mother, who will eventually need one to get around.

“Again, there was simply no room for compromise.

“They were also worried I was going to rent it out, but given the current crisis, I don’t think that would be a bad thing.”

Copper Coast Council director development services Müller Mentz said officers cannot take personal situations into account when assessing applications.

“Mr Austin-Smith’s original application as submitted did not meet the criteria for what is defined as ancillary accommodation and could not be supported,” Mr Mentz said.

“The proposal as submitted was rather defined as a self-contained second dwelling which is not supported in the Rural Living Zone (where Mr Austin-Smith has purchased).

“The application was amended as required and subsequently development approval has been granted.”

Same Day Granny Flats SA manager Simon James said it is common for people to face hurdles when trying to gain approval to build a granny flat.

“We primarily see two main scenarios — a single parent who wants to move into their adult children’s backyard, often blocked by councils, or adult children moving back into their parents’ home, but they want more space so they branch out to the backyard,” Mr James said.

“Unfortunately, there is a lot of complexity and bureaucracy associated with gaining development approval and, in a lot of cases, many of these people have already been kicked down repeatedly.”

Mr James said there needs to be more flexibility afforded to people looking to build and rent granny flats as an alternate form of accommodation.

“People aren’t being provided with solutions but instead presented with barriers, and when they ask for help they’re told to look at a website or speak to a consultant without any real direction on what the next step might look like,” Mr James said.

“It is horrible — a lot of these people have no money or are down to their last few dollars to get by.

Yorke Peninsula Country Times 31 October 2023

This article appeared in Yorke Peninsula Country Times, 31 October 2023.

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