Building certification to be topic of local government conference

Building certification will be put on the agenda of the Local Government Conference. Image: Commons Licence

A massive shakeup of the building development process could be on the table following the Local Government NSW conference in October, if Central Coast Council has its way.

Council will call for the return of building certification to councils instead of private certifiers and for the shake-up of how consultant reports are obtained in the development application process.

A Mayoral Minute accepted at Councils August 12 meeting said there was a lot of community concern about current building standards, particularly in medium and high density developments.

“The NSW government introduced the use of private certifiers in 1998 and their increasing use in the approval of construction and complying development certificates is one potential reason for the fall in building standards and is something that needs to be addressed by the state government”, the Mayoral Minute stated.

“Local councils are still able to provide certification services but are finding it difficult to compete with private certifiers who offer cheaper rates.

“The intent of this motion is to call on the state government to return the function of building certification to council on a fee for service basis”.

Another issue Council will take to the conference is the introduction of a new system that guaranteed independence and integrity in consultant reporting in the development application process.

Council wants a list of qualified independent consultants established for reports such as environmental impact statements, transport plans, arborist reports and waste management plans.

Development applicants would pay into an independent consultancy fund to procure the report services. Councils would allocate work to consultants from the approved list to prepare reports and to provide them directly to council.

The [former] Mayor also wants an audit process to ensure quality, independence and transparency of the process. At present, development applicants choose their own consultants and submit the reports with their development application.

In total, council will table seven motions at the conference, to be held in Sydney.

  • The other topics include:
  • The investigation of glyphosphate alternatives for effective weed management and the development of guidance and protocols on their use and impact on the environment;
  • Approval and management of short-term rental accommodation;
  • State government and local councils uniting to develop a 20-year waste strategy;
  • Consultation about the placement of small cells for the rollout of 5G technology; and,
  • Extension of the June 30, 2021, deadline for the development of plans of management for Crown land.

[Former] Mayor Smith said all those topics created challenges for councils across NSW. Every council wants to create a community which is both safe and attractive for residents and is also welcoming to visitors, she said. We want our development and building approval processes to continue to be robust, resulting in high quality, yet affordable, housing.

“While we encourage visitors to enjoy short-term stays in our beautiful regions, we need to balance that with ensuring that short-term rental doesn’t disrupt potential long-term residents.

“We also want to ensure that councils have a seat at the table when the state government is planning policies and strategies which have a long-term impact on local communities”, [former] Mayor Smith said.

Source: Meeting, Aug 12 Media release, Aug 14 Central Coast Council