City of Bunbury council asked to approve a visual privacy variation

Resident Steve Scott-Higgins took this photo from his child's bedroom of the nearly finished home next door.
Resident Steve Scott-Higgins took this photo from his child's bedroom of the nearly finished home next door.

Resident Steve Scott-Higgins will be pleading with the City of Bunbury council tonight to stop his next door neighbour from being able to directly look into his backyard and house.

A homeowner on Picton Crescent has asked the city to approve a variation to the Visual Privacy Requirements of the Residential Design Codes.

This would allow the nearly finished home to have a balcony which looks straight into Mr Scott-Higgins’ outdoor entertaining area and child’s bedroom without screening.

Despite the proposal not meeting the R-Codes in relation of visual privacy, city officers have recommended council approve the variation because the neighbouring house is setback from the front of the block and both homes have alternative private outdoor area.

City officers outline the landowner received a building permit for the site in 2016 which stated screening be used where required to comply with the visual privacy codes. The applicant’s justification for the variation in the visual privacy requirements says the frontage of the neighbouring property should not be considered as a visual privacy matter because the R-Codes ‘only refer to visual privacy behind the street setback line’.

It also says the intent of R-Codes is to ‘to minimise the impacts of potential overlooking not absolute prohibition of visual interaction’.

Mr Scott-Higgins said during the building process he did not receive any correspondence from the landowner, builder or city about the front or side elevations or window placement.

However, city officers state in the recommendation that the proposal was advertised to adjoining landowners and that Mr Scott-Higgins ‘strongly objected’ the application. He said one of the reasons for the approval was because of the location of his house on the block, however his home was built 70 years ago so he had no say in the building process. If council approves this proposal Mr Scott-Higgins said they were effectively saying it was ok for strangers to be looking into children’s playground and bedroom.

“As a father of two young children who play outdoors I have a reasonable expectation of privacy without fear of them being observed in their own yard and within their own home,” he said.

“The direct vision into a child’s bedroom is an act that I would hope that council don’t endorse or support.”