NSW Planning System adds massive holding costs

12 June 2007

The NSW Urban Taskforce, a development industry group representing Australia largest developers, has expressed its concerns at the extra holding costs being incurred caused by the delays in obtaining a development approval. Terry Barnes, Chief Executive Officer, said today we have called on Frank Sartor, Minister for Planning to urgently overhaul the NSW Planning system to get development moving and restore the States economy.

We are also drawing attention to the massive holding costs that are being incurred and which are adding to the cost of development in this State because the local development approvals process has become cumbersome and unnecessarily complex.


Based on the recent experience of our members, development applications are taking up to 9-12 months to determine and I know of similar delays with residents seeking approval for a new house or house extension he said.


The development industry alone is worth an estimated $40 Billion yearly to NSW and now has to factor in holding costs caused by delays in obtaining council approvals. These costs are up to15% of total project costs which results in an added cost of development of up to $4 Billion annually which is passed on to the end purchaser.


It is the planning system itself that needs changing so that local councils can improve their performance in dealing with development applications. he said


You just need to ask anyone who has put a development application in to their council for either a large development or a simple house approval – and they will tell you how difficult the process is and that it takes forever to get an approval.


Mr. Barnes said that to speed up the entire system for all applicants, the NSW Urban Taskforce has called on the government to implement the following:-

¢ the categories of exempt development should be expanded so that approval is not required for minor additions that comply with guidelines or changes of use that do not cause any different impact, ¢ categories of complying development be expanded so that applications for new houses or extensions that comply with council standards can be approved quickly with a minimum of fuss, ¢ all councils be required to move to electronic applications to improve their efficiency and so that applicants and builders can easily keep track of their application, ¢ that certain applications be fast-tracked with the use of contract planners and private certifiers to overcome council backlogs, ¢ the introduction of Independent Hearing and Assessment Panels on a regional basis with experienced and skilled panel members to provide a non-political forum where residents concerns can be properly aired and a compromise reached, ¢ to achieve consistency, the Department of Planning develop community consultation guidelines for councils and for the process of consultation, ¢ the Department of Planning undertake a pro-active role in the co-ordination of government department responses when comments are required on proposed developments


We believe that in the medium term, the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act should be replaced with new legislation that also includes shifting across some of the provisions that are now in the Local Government Act.


In the meantime, there is action that the Government can take to bring about some important improvements to the present system.


The NSW Urban Taskforce is a property development industry group, representing NSWs most prominent and important developers, builders and property financiers.


The NSW development industrys annual turnover is $35 billion and employs 180,000 people, accounting for six percent of the States total employment. It is the fifth largest contributor to the State economy.

Media Enquires: Terry Barnes, Chief Executive Officer NSW Urban Taskforce, Phone: 9238 3955 or mobile 0423 000 113

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