WHAT IS THE ISSUE?
In Qld, a roofed structure on a rooftop is defined as a ‘storey’. So, without tailored City Plan provisions to unlock the red tape around rooftop design, Brisbane is missing the opportunity for active, shady rooftops.
For example, a 5-storey apartment complex with a rooftop dog park and a fixed shade structure becomes 6 storeys in the eyes of the planning scheme and therefore is perceived as a ‘non-compliant’ proposal exceeding the ‘acceptable outcome’ for building height, despite the many benefits of active, shady rooftops.
This is the case even where the shade structure is designed well, set back from the edges of the building, made of lightweight materials and kept open or semi-enclosed. This becomes a constraint for development that proposes innovative rooftop uses (like dog parks, gardens, eating places and sport uses).
Producing uncovered but active rooftop spaces is also not the best outcome in our sub-tropical environment, where we should be focused on providing more shade.
There is a disconnect between the Council and community aspirations as expressed in The New World City Design Guide – Buildings That Breathe and how this is delivered within City Plan. The planning scheme makes it more difficult for innovative rooftop uses to be built, increasing the time, cost and risk of getting an approval.
WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE?
Remove the City Plan barriers to providing shade on rooftops, where that shade is well designed. Specifically,
1. Exclude fixed shade structures on rooftops from being a storey, where meeting certain agreed criteria (i.e. heights, size and setbacks) by changing section 1.7.7 of City Plan 2014;
2. When planning scheme codes use metres (instead of storeys) to indicate maximum building heights, add a note to exclude the height of any ‘shady rooftop’ structures from overall building height; and
3. Recognise the value of shade provision in our sub-tropical climate by incorporating measures into the performance outcomes regarding height.
Activated rooftops could be encouraged in Brisbane using similar principles to Singapore’s successful LUSH programme: Landscaping for Urban Spaces and High-Rises Incentive Scheme. Bonuses are awarded to developments that include a roof garden, green roof or Outdoor Refreshment Area (ORA).
To ensure quality, some limitations are imposed including setting appropriate setbacks for ORAs and restrictions to the overall roof space that could be taken up by structures. These are:
– Size (no more than 50% of the roof space)
– Height (maximum of 5 metres)
– Setback (needs to achieve a 45 degree angle from rooftop edge).
WHERE TO FROM HERE?
We asked Brisbane City Council to change the planning scheme to make it easier to create activated, shady rooftops. They listened and announced in the Blueprint that they will make the City Plan amendments.
We look forward to this taking shape.