Radical surgery may end the ‘culture of delay’

29 October 2008

Radical surgery to the bureaucracy overseeing NSW town planning decisions may herald the end of the ˜culture of delay, according to the Urban Taskforce.

The Taskforces chief executive, Aaron Gadiel, said that the industry had been seeking confidence-building measures from the NSW Government.


At a time of financial crisis, this will help return investment to NSW, Mr Gadiel said.


In the last six months NSW home approvals have fallen by 16 per cent – in the same period Victorian approvals fell by only 1 per cent.


The government has promised that it will speed up the time it takes for land to be rezoned and released for new housing under widespread reforms. The government says its administrative reforms will free-up $3 million which will be used to speed up decision-making.


The NSW planning system has been gripped with a culture of delay for far too long, Mr Gadiel said.


The governments radical surgery has the potential to unclog the system.


Were particularly pleased that the government will hire a team of specialist project managers to fast-track rezonings and quickly assess major developments.


In the current economic environment, developers are fighting hard to get the credit they need to make their projects work.


But the prospect of long delays has been making NSW an extremely unattractive place to develop.


Since 2003/2004, the real value of NSW building work has collapsed by 15 per cent; while over the same period in Victoria it has increased by 8 per cent in Queensland it has shot up by 21 per cent.


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


Every extra day deprives a developer of income on the capital tied up in a project and forces the developer to pay extra in interest on a projects debt.


A developers profit margin can easily be eaten up by these holding costs.


The last thing anyone should want is for major projects to fail because theyre lost in the bureaucracy.


Mr Gadiel also welcomed the new system of deadlines imposed on the NSW Department of Planning.


We often hear rhetoric from politicians, but todays announcement is made more credible by the Ministers statement of clear performance benchmarks, Mr Gadiel said.


Mr Gadiel said the industry would support efforts by the Department of Planning to identify and remove redundant processes which hold up new residential or employment land being brought to the market.


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



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