The Block in Richmond

The Block logo 2011

Channel Nine's popular renovation series The Block moved into Yarra in 2011.

After years of transforming properties in and around Sydney, the show's producers decided it was Melbourne's turn and headed for Richmond.

Cameron Street, a residential street close to Bridge Road, was chosen as the location for the series.   

On 20 August 2011, a private auction event was held at Fitzroy Town Hall.

Of the four properties to go under the hammer, only 39 Cameron Street sold, with the rest passed in after failing to meet set reserve prices.

The remaining three properties all sold within a week of the auction.

Sales results

37 Cameron Street (Josh and Jenna) - sold for $1 million (reserve $950,000)
39 Cameron Street (Polly and Waz) - sold for $855,000 (reserve $840,000)
41 Cameron Street (Katrina and Amie) - sold for $860,000 (reserve $860,000)
43 Cameron Street (Rod and Tania) - sold for $922,000 (reserve $850,000)

 

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Before the cameras started rolling, The Block's producers needed to submit planning applications to Council for the four homes that contestants would be renovating to ensure the properties met the requirements of the Yarra Planning Scheme.

It was also a good opportunity for producers to incorporate a number of environmentally sustainable design features at the building stage that would significantly reduce water and energy use in the homes.

Summaries of the planning process The Block followed and more information about those environmentally sustainable deisgn features can be found below. 

The Block - designs for sustainability

Producers for The Block took the opportunity to incorporate innovative designs and eco-friendly products into the renovations of the Cameron Street properties to ensure they met the highest standards in terms of energy efficiency and sustainability.

The planning applications for 37, 39, 41 and 43 Cameron Street participated in Council’s new Sustainable Design Assessment in the Planning Program (SDAPP) program.

Further information about Yarra City Council's SDAPP program can be found here.

By following some simple design rules and choosing certain building materials during the construction stage, residents of 41 Cameron Street are expected to save 77% in greenhouse gas emissions and cut mains water use by 36% compared to an average household.

Through the installation of a rainwater tank, a rain garden and extensive permeable areas, they will also remove 60% of the nitrogen load from the site’s stormwater entering local drains.

The cut-away diagram and feature list below breaks down what has been done to give 41 Cameron Street the green tick of approval.

ESD - The Block - 41 Cameron Street

 

1: Sustainably sourced recycled timbers

2: 1800 Litre rainwater tank connected to ground floor toilet and used for irrigation

3: Retractable canvas awning to north glazing, shaded in summer, sunny in winter

4: External shading to all windows

5: Double glazed windows

6: Light weight first floor construction, R4.0 insulation

7: High performance solar voltaic solar cell array, 1.5KW

8: High performance gas boosted solar hot water system

9: Roof insulation R4.0

10: Colourbond roofing, medium colour for higher solar absorption

11: Roof sarking, Bradford EnviroSeal

12: Ceiling insulation, Bradford high performance gold batts R4.0

13: Double glazed windows with security mesh to allow night ventilation

14: Native planting promotes pre-cooling of breezes 

15: Bicycle storage area

16: Low VOC paints

17: Maiximise the retention and reuse of existing structures and materials

18: Renewable materials such as bamboo flooring

19: Six and five star water fittings to bathrooms

20: Energy efficient appliances in kitchen

21: Ceiling fans for improved ventilation

22: Curtains/heavy blinds for added solar control

23: Concrete slab on ground - high thermal mass or alternate ventilated subfloor

24: North orientation for living spaces with cross ventilation

25: Weather adaptable outdoor spaces

26: Low water use indigenous plants and rain garden.

The summary below provides an example of the Sustainable Design Assessment (SDA) for 41 Cameron Street.

As part of an SDA submission, applicants in the City of Yarra are requested to address 10 Key Sustainable Building Categories.

By using the free web-based tool STEPS, Brenchley Architects established the building’s following sustainability credentials:

Indoor Environment Quality

  • good cross ventilation and night ventilation opportunities
  • a combination of flexible and fixed external shading, responding to seasonal climate conditions
  • overlooking screen to first floor windows allows for sufficient daylight to bedrooms
  • low health risk internal materials and finishes

Energy Efficiency

  • use of ceiling fans instead of air-conditioning
  • gas boosted solar hot water system (solar contribution is more than 80%)
  • Photovoltaic panels for electricity generation
  • external clothes dryer

Water Resources

  • high WELS rating for all water fittings
  • rainwater collection and reuse for toilet flushing
  • use of drought tolerant indigenous plants

Stormwater Management

  • STORM rating of 132% (STORM is a free web based tool, developed by Melbourne Water, that confirms that a building’s best practice water quality objectives have been achieved)

Building Materials

  • extensive reuse of the existing building structures
  • use of recycled timber.

Transport

  • off-street secure bicycle parking for two bikes

Waste Management

  • sufficient storage space for recyclables and rubbish
  • garden compost for green waste

Urban ecology

  • use of drought tolerant indigenous plants
  • established planting will be protected

Innovation

  • ceiling fans instead of air-conditioning
  • overlooking screens that maximise internal daylight levels

Ongoing building and site management

  • ensure that all above outlined services and systems are maintained in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendation.  

Please also refer to the SDA Report detailing the abovementioned sustainability initiatives.


Planning for The Block in 2011

The Block's application:

Council's Statutory Planning Unit received separate planning applications for each of four houses shown on The Block - four lots at 37, 39, 41 and 43 Cameron Street, Richmond. 

The applications featured:

  • Number 37 - a ground floor extension
  • Numbers 39, 41 and 43 - ground and first floor extensions (including a roof terrace)

The proposed extensions on each property essentially sought to remodel the existing homes and update the front facades.

Council's response:

The only planning permit requirement for each proposal came under the Residential 1 Zone (Clause 32.01 of the Yarra Planning Scheme). 

The Residential 1 Zone requires an extension to a dwelling to be assessed against ResCode (Clause 54 of the Yarra Planning Scheme). 

ResCode includes a number of Objectives and Standards which an extension must meet, and focuses on neighbourhood character, amenity impacts (visual bulk, overlooking and overshadowing) as well as internal amenity.

The Block was asked to provide additional information regarding the overall height and setbacks of the three two-storey proposals at Numbers 39, 41 and 43 Cameron Street so their potential impacts could be more accurately assessed. 

Council advised The Block that it had concerns about the potential overlooking from the roof terraces and the lack of articulation of the proposed first floors and roof terrace balustrades. 

Following this advice, The Block changed the design of the front of the roof terraces, lowering the height and adding a glass feature to the staircase. 

Advertising:

All four applications followed standard statutory procedure and were advertised for 14 days, with letters sent to surrounding properties and a sign put up on each site. 

Objections were received for each of the two storey proposals at Numbers 39, 41 and 43 Cameron Street on a number of grounds including overlooking, visual bulk, site coverage and overshadowing.

Post advertising:

Once the advertising period ended, The Block was again advised by Council that the proposed first floors and roof terraces continued to lack appropriate articulation.

Considering Council’s advice and the concerns raised by objectors, The Block submitted amended the plans by removing the roof terraces from Numbers 39, 41 and 43 Cameron Street. 

The Block notified the objectors of the changes and all objections were formally withdrawn. 

Final outcome:

Council was satisfied that the proposed extensions for each home would sit comfortably within the character of the local neighbourhood.

The additions were not considered to have unreasonable impacts on surrounding properties, while the design also incorporated a number of sustainable elements.

The plans: 

37 Cameron Street

37-Cameron-St---Floor-PlanCrop

 

39 Cameron Street

 

39-Cameron-St---Floor-Plan

 

41 Cameron Street

41-Cameron-St---Floor-Plan

 

 

43 Cameron Street

43-Cameron-St---Floor-Plan

 


For further information about ESD principles and advice, please contact:
Johanna Trickett
Environmental Sustainability Advisor
9205 5366
Johanna.Trickett@yarracity.vic.gov.au

For further information about The Block's planning application process, please contact:
James Sutherland
Senior Statutory Planner
9205 5046
James.Sutherland@yarracity.vic.gov.au

For general planning inquiries in Yarra, please contact:
Statutory Planning
9205 5373
info@yarracity.vic.gov.au
 

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