Proposal lets councils get on with the job

23 July 2008

A new draft NSW government policy, released today, helps untangle planning rules and allows councils to get on with job, according to Aaron Gadiel, chief executive of the Urban Taskforce.

The State Government is proposing to remove 1,300 separate requirements that force councils to hold up development applications while State government bureaucrats are consulted, Mr Gadiel said.


This kind of reform is essential if the NSW property development industry is to recover from its current lows.


The supply of new homes in NSW is at the lowest levels ever, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics figures released earlier this month.


These reforms give local councils the opportunity to get on with the job assessing development applications on their merits.


The change helps curtail the micromanagement of local councils by some government bureaucrats.


Its long overdue.


Mr Gadiel said that most of the requirements being removed were obsolete.


Many of these requirements duplicate other approval requirements meaning that the same State government authority has to issue two separate approvals for the same development, he said.


There is already a wealth of guidelines that local councils can use to decide whether a development should be approved.


Many existing requirements for councils to get the approval of State government agencies will still continue, but new strict deadlines will be imposed on State authorities.


NSW government agencies will be required to speak up with any concerns within 21 days of council asking for their opinion, Mr Gadiel said.


If they dont respond, the new rules will ˜deem state approval to be granted.


State authorities will have to put up or shut up.


The Departments Local Development Performance Monitoring Report found that in 2006-07, NSW government departments took about 48 days to consider applications referred to them – which added to overall development assessment times. This is one of the reasons the average time for local councils to approve a development applications was 76 days.


Many development applications often take up to 9-12 months to get resolved. Some even take years to get sorted out, Mr Gadiel said.


The extra costs imposed by the delay can add up to 15 per cent of total project costs.


Up to $4 billion annually is being thrown down the drain because of an inefficient planning system.


Todays proposal is a great start, but more work needs to be done on cumbersome rules relating to the Roads and Traffic Authority and RailCorp.


The draft State Environmental Planning Policy (Repeal of Concurrence and Referral Provisions) is on public exhibition until 22 August 2008.


The Urban Taskforce is a property development industry group, representing Australias most prominent property developers and equity financiers.



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