Proposed change to Stirling verge use permits a detriment to building industry, says HIA WA

Stock image.
Stock image.

A BUILDING industry representative says a proposed City of Stirling policy change would lead to decreased development in the area.

Housing Industry Association WA assistant director Rachelle Gill said builders were overwhelmingly against a City recommendation that would prohibit the use of mixing machines and cutting of roof timbers on the verge during building works.

Builders apply for permits to use verges during development works and the prohibition has been proposed as a clause to the City’s amended verge permit and bond policy.

“The policy proposes to exclude the use of cement mixers on the verge,” Ms Gill said.

“Doing this on the verge permits a safer work site.”

Ms Gill said it reduced the workable area of building sites and was concerned the industry had little time to prepare for such a change.

“To stop it in one council with a few weeks’ notice is just not feasible,” she said.

“This starts to come into workers on site doing something different (in different council areas) and creates confusion.”

A City report presented at the February 6 council meeting said the amendment would reduce its liability risk if someone was injured as a result of these activities, as well as reduce risks to residents, ratepayers and the public who “have a right to use and access the road verge without being exposed to dangerous construction activities”.

More than 120 submissions were made during advertising of the policy last year, with the majority from builders objecting to the proposal.

Main reasons given were there were many small lot subdivisions in the City aimed at increasing urban infill and often the largest open space on the lots available to builders was the verge, and that it would result in reduced viability in building on smaller lots.

A response by the City said it acknowledged challenges facing builders in infill areas but it was seeking “an acceptable balance between permitting reasonable verge use by builders whilst providing safe and accessible verges for the community.”

Several residents expressed support for the change as it would ensure footpaths were clear for use.

Councillors voted to refer the item to a future meeting so more information could be provided to them and the City could seek input from the building industry.

Ms Gill said they were keen to work with the City but warned adopting the change would increase the cost of construction in the area.

“Developments are less likely to stack up… owners may find it is no longer feasible,” she said.

“The City needs to appreciate that sometimes even a 1 per cent increase can affect the ability to go ahead with a project.”

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