New plan aims to process DAs faster than ever

Central Coast Council processes more development applications (DAs) than any other local authority in NSW.

Last financial year, more than 3,150 applications were considered, having a value of more than $825M.

Now the plan is to process these DAs faster than ever.

A report going to Council on Wednesday, January 27, outlines a draft of a new process.

If adopted, it would apply to all development applications submitted to Council, including modifications and determination reviews.

The draft policy aims to assist in reducing development assessment turnaround times and to provide certainty to the community on Council’s approach to the assessment of development applications, the report states.

The draft policy recommends pre-lodgement meetings with Council and a Council commitment to clear and consistent advice.

The new process will not entertain multiple, involved or lengthy requests for further information.

Instead, the applicant will get a determination on what’s lodged; and Council will not hold or defer DAs but rather it will reject incomplete or poor quality DAs.

If another agency such as the Fire Service or Roads Department requests further information and it is going to take more than three to four weeks to respond, Council will request the applicant withdraw the DA.

The Administrator will consider the new processes at the January 27 meeting.

If he supports the draft policy, it will go on 28 days’ exhibition for public comment.

Our councillors decided at their last meeting before they were suspended in October 2020 to investigate measures to fast-track DA assessments to reduce turnaround times.

It was to be a “tradie-led” recovery from COVID-19 and the Motion was put forward by now-suspended Cr Bruce McLachlan.

Recently, the NSW Department of Planning Industry and Environment (DPIE) released a Planning System Acceleration Program and part of that was to support councils and planning panels in fast tracking assessment for development applications.

Central Coast Council DAs are assessed by Council staff and a report handed on to the relevant authority for determination.

DAs are determined by the Regional Planning Panel, or the Local Planning Panel or by Council staff, depending on their size, sensitivity and cost.

Some State Significant Developments are determined by the State Department of Planning, Industry and Environment’s Independent Planning Commission.

If the policy is adopted, the Council commits to reviewing it every two years.

Merilyn Vale