Jamie Durie will finally be able to build his $2.7million dream home after a three-year renovation saga that saw the plans receive more than 50 objections from angry residents.
The famous garden guru last week received council approval for his Development Application (DA) for the waterfront home in Avalon, Sydney’s Northern Beaches.
His plan to demolish a 1960s cottage and replace it with a sprawling six-story mansion for his family had already met with opposition from neighbors who objected to the removal of 17 native trees.
There was then an issue of whether building the house would impact the ecosystem of a local colony of microbats.
Jamie Durie (pictured with wife Ameka Jane) will finally be able to build his $2.7million dream home after a three-year renovation saga that saw the plans receive more than 50 objections
The former Backyard Blitz host said that in his 25 years working in the industry, trying to bring his renovation plans to fruition was the biggest challenge he had faced.
“I can tell you right now that if you want to house a DA in Avalon, it’s going to be the most heartbreaking thing you’ve done in your life,” Durie told The Daily Telegraph.
“I’ve spoken to almost 20-30 people over the past six months who have decided not to file their DAs because of the circus it has created.”
The construction of the house must begin immediately.
Community members were also unhappy with Durie’s plans on the grounds that habitation would be irrelevant to the area.
The famous garden guru last week received council approval for his development application (pictured) for the waterfront home in Avalon, Sydney’s northern beaches
The six-storey house has been the subject of objections over the removal of trees from members of the local community. Pictured: plans for Durie’s mansion
In October, the Northern Beaches Council questioned a report by an ecologist employed by Durie that caves near the proposed development where micro bats could roost will not be affected.
The ecologist’s environmental assessment report states that colonies of big-eared bats and lesser curved-winged bats are located 1.3 km east of the Durie’s Riverview Road waterfront property in Careel Bay.
He also claimed that the caves are “degraded to the point that the species is unlikely to use them.”
The council called the report “inaccurate” and insisted that the bat habitat should be conserved.
“I’ve never seen them there, but they’re welcome,” Durie had said of the microbats, saying its development wouldn’t impact the species.
Durie’s development application included a proposal to remove 17 native trees, triggering a series of community objections to the local council.
The former Backyard Blitz host said that in his 25 years working in the industry, trying to push through his renovation plans was the biggest challenge he had faced.
In a council report in February, revised plans showed only 11 trees would be felled, eight of which were in poor health and the other three did not need council approval to be felled.
Durie had previously defended his plans in several TV interviews, saying the report of an arborist absent from the council submission sparked a misunderstanding from angry locals.
He said some of the unhealthy trees on the property had to be cut down due to termite infestation.
“There was a group of new environmentalists standing outside the house and protecting noxious weeds,” Durie told A Current Affair earlier.
“I was mortified when I read some of the submissions.
“I think if some of the new environmentalists who were standing in the street knew that they were standing here to prevent the cutting down of environmental weeds that have now turned into trees, they would be a little embarrassed.”
The former Manpower stripper, who has lived in the area for more than 20 years, said he wants the community to be just as proud of the redeveloped home as he is.
The former Manpower stripper, who has lived in the area for more than 20 years, said he wants the community to be as proud of the redeveloped home as he is.
Durie’s six-story proposal consists of four bedrooms – reduced from six, a swimming pool, a two-car garage, a music studio and media room, an elevator to the children’s play area and yoga room.
A resident, Kylie Hebts, who lives across from Durie’s property, told the program, “To be honest, it’s kind of LA and Double Bay combined.”
“The thought of so many trees sticking out, it really feels like we should be planning a funeral.”
Durie had described the saga as an ‘unfortunate chain of events’ and sent letters to neighbors to clarify the situation
“People assumed I was pulling out a lot of native trees when in fact some of them are weeds,” he told Today Extra.
“They’re actually noxious weeds, they’re privet, some of them are affected by termites, some of them have bora, some of them have dieback.
“When you read the tree report, you will understand that some of these trees were actually marked for removal without our house being built.”
He added that 1518 native and endemic species have been planted on and around the property.
Durie’s plans are to tear down a 1960s cottage and turn it into a six-story family mansion
Plants and vegetation will also be planted on the roofs and 60 solar panels will be used.
“We’ve rectified the issue and I’ve sent a letter to all neighbors and council explaining what’s going on and hopefully they’ll see to it with our new plans,” Durie previously said.
“I hear them loud and clear and rest assured, we will put a lot of plants in the ground.”
Neighbor John Sheehan, a former acting judge of the Land and Environment Court, had described the proposal as “fatally flawed” and feared it would have “serious and irreversible impacts on biodiversity values”.
Another neighbor said the proposed dwelling did not match the adjoining dwellings that respect the topography and vegetation of their locations.
“This is gross overdevelopment in this location given the character of the area and the adjacent properties,” their submission said.
“It needs to be redesigned by an architect to reduce its coverage of the site, retain all significant trees, step back from the waterfront to stay well within the building line of the foreshore, and reduce its oversize.”
Neighbors at Durie’s new home were concerned the house wouldn’t fit in with other homes in the area
Another expressed serious concerns that the development will set an alarming precedent for future development in the area if approved.
Local heritage and preservation bodies have also opposed the development, fearing it is irrelevant to the area, threatens wildlife and “would overwhelm its ecologically sensitive bloc”.
The Pittwater Natural Heritage Association said the proposal would have a detrimental effect on the movement of wildlife in the surrounding area and does not reflect the ecological and aesthetic values of the area.
“Council should consider the cumulative effect that developments like this would have on the canopy trees that are essential to the character of the Avalon region,” their submission states.
“If this and other similar developments are allowed to continue, over time the canopy of trees that gives Avalon its character will disappear.”
The Avalon Preservation Association added: ‘The current trend of providing very large habitation on ecologically sensitive blocks and consequently destroying much of the native vegetation on the block while a small effect taken individually constitutes the ‘death by a thousand cuts ‘when considered the new standard.’
Durie bought the block five years ago for $2.3 million.