Is Your Development Site Rubbish?
There are lots of things to take into consideration when either assessing a development site or designing a multi-res development. Many of them are obvious, some a little less so, and one of them... well, it's often a dirty, hidden secret.

I'm talking about bins.

Bins? I hear you ask.

Don't the Council just deliver them when everything's built and finished, for the new residents to use? Why should I be thinking about bins when I'm still in the due diligence stage?

And yet bins (or more accurately, rubbish collection services) have the potential to completely derail your development plans, so you need to be thinking about them right from day one.

Currently, most households have multiple wheelie bins for rubbish, recyclables and garden waste. The total varies depending on the Council, but 3 is quite common, and some areas now have 4 or more.

Now, think about how much space each bin takes up, allow a little bit of room between bins for the rubbish collection truck to pick it up, multiply that by the number of dwellings on the property - and all of a sudden you realise how much frontage is required to house all those bins on bin collection day.

Your property might be more than big enough to accommodate 4 townhouses, for example, but if that means 8 or more bins have to be out on the nature strip each week for rubbish collection, and each bin needs 1m of frontage, and you only have a narrow frontage - uh oh. Problem!
Councils often have strict guidelines about how much frontage is required per bin or per dwelling, so you'd better know what those allowances are as part of your due diligence when buying a site. Otherwise your whole development might be put in jeopardy because you can't get the bins emptied each week.

But wait! There might be a get out of jail free card…

Rubbish Collection Services

An alternative to kerbside collection of rubbish is having a rubbish collection service just for your development. So once a week a truck comes onto the property, empties a big skip-type bin, and drives away again.

While this solves the small frontage issue (and many Councils make this type of collection mandatory for larger developments anyway), it introduces a whole new set of challenges. What size driveway are you going to need for the rubbish truck to have access? Where are the bins going to be kept for easy access by the truck? Is a reversing space required? Are there overhanging trees, both on your site or on the neighbour's property?

All of these challenges need to be resolved as part of the plans for the site, and the solutions may have a negative impact on how many dwellings you can fit on the site.

Storage Space

Whether you have individual wheelie bins for each dwelling or larger skip-type bins for larger developments, the bins need to have a place to call home. It's tempting to do rough calculations based on the size of each bin, rule off a section on the plan and leave it at that. But it's no good having a cavity where you can line up 4 wheelie bins in a row, with only the front one accessible. It's just too inconvenient for a householder who needs to put rubbish in the back bin.

Or you might end up with a situation where the bin has a place to live, but there's no room to wheel it out and turn it around so you can wheel it away in preparation for collection. Bins can get quite heavy when they're full, so manoeuvrability is important. You also don't want to wheel the bins coming out of storage on the side of a steep driveway, where the chances of a bin going rogue and taking off under its own steam are increased.

Following on from allowing enough space is where that space is located. The whole point of bins is for householders to put stuff in them, generally on a fairly frequent basis. So the storage location needs to be reasonably convenient for access. This is a VERY common problem. Householders get tired of having to trek 3/4 of the way around their unit block to get to the bin storage area, so instead park their bins somewhere much more convenient - and obvious, like beside the front door - for ease of access. Not a good look!

Which leads into the final consideration - aesthetics...

Let's face it, bins are ugly. They often smell. And while the brightly coloured lids of many wheelie bins makes it easy to identify what you're supposed to put in them, it also makes them stand out like a sore thumb amongst the elegant, carefully chosen colours and textures of your development.

So while it might work from a space and location perspective to park them along one side of the driveway, for example, is that really what householders want to see? It does nothing for street appeal either. Where you have no choice but to put the bins somewhere relatively obvious, at least allow some space for screening so they can be mostly hidden away.

Because as much as bins might want to roll triumphantly into the light of day as their glorious and useful selves, the harsh reality is that they're ugly and most people want them to remain a hidden secret. And if you don't do your due diligence when first assessing your site, the bins may just get their ultimate revenge on you by adding a whole layer of complexity and expense you weren't expecting to your development, or even make it completely unfeasible.

Now, I bet you didn't think the humble bin could do such a thing did you?
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