Modern home design concerns Nelson council

The design for a house that a builder wants to put up in the middle of a block of heritage homes on Nelson
The design for a house that a builder wants to put up in the middle of a block of heritage homes on Nelson's Silica Street.
— image credit: photo submittted

Nelson city council have rejected a proposal from a developer to build a narrow, modern home at 808 Silica Street.

The project came before council at Monday’s meeting when Kelley Deon applied for a development variance for the property.

Council had not seen the house design, and councillor Donna Macdonald said if Deon hadn’t asked for a development variance it would have never appeared at the table.

Conversation erupted  when council saw images of the  flat-roofed home.

“I thought it was an interesting design,” said Macdonald. “But then I looked at its neighbours and felt it just stuck out like a sore thumb.”

The block of Silica Street where Deon would like to build the home has been identified on the city’s heritage register as an important streetscape.

“To try to squeeze this little, super modern house into that streetscape showed a lack of understanding or respect for the heritage values of the neighbourhood,” said Macdonald.

A motion was passed to refer the project back to staff to discuss possible design options with the applicant that will reflect the neighbourhood’s heritage characteristics.

But Macdonald added the city doesn’t have any teeth to force developers to abide by design guidelines.

“The only way he could proceed with construction is if he narrowed the building,” she said. “If he decided he would be happy with a narrower house, then he could go forward, and we wouldn’t have any say on it.”

The house would include a secondary suite and be infill, two factors the city looks for in new developments, but Macdonald said she would like to see some compromises made on the design to help its presentation to the street.

“A gabled roof would be one option,” she said. “Even if it is just a facade that would make it fit in or as one of the people who wrote to us said, there are flat-roofed buildings in the city that are very attractive, so it has to do also with the colour scheme and size of windows.”

Macdonald said she is hopeful the designers in working with city staff could come up with something better.

“I would like to see it happen but it just can’t look like it does now,” she said.

The applicant declined comment.


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