LGSA files report on new housing code

By Staff Writer
The Local Government and Shires Associations (LGSA) has issued a report with the NSW Department of Planning covering the problems NSW councils are facing implementing the State’s new Housing Code.

The Department of Planning has received more than1300 inquiries on the Housing Codes in its first month of operation with many councils concerned that they may be found liable.
NSW councils have experience a number of poroblems including: compliance with the code; last minute changes to zoning certificates; problems with notifying neighbours after approval; application for additions where the whole house must comply; and, a need for broader range of local variations.

The associations are working with NSW councils to provide information to the Department of Planning in an effort to address the problems.

President of the Local Government Association Cr Genia McCaffery said that there was widespread confusion about how the Code’s SEPP should be interpreted and administered.

“Councils are still trying to interpret what information we must supply on the new S149 Certificates, and put processes into place to meet their requirements,” she said.

“Some councils are concerned that it could take up to three months to modify software to allow the provision of accurate information to applicants on exclusions from the Code.”

President of the Shires Association Cr Bruce Miller said that a key concern for councils was that in the rush to implement the code, NSW councils may have been left exposed to potential liability.

“Concerns such as this have led to many councils seeking independent legal advice on their duty of care to their communities,” he said.

"However, feedback from councils across the State is allowing us to work with the Department to clear up ambiguous areas as soon as possible."

Cr McCaffery said that the closer working relationship that was developing between the two levels of Government was important.

“We hope that problems experienced with the introduction of the Housing Code will result in full trials and independent evaluations of future changes to the NSW planning system before they are implemented across the State,” she said.

“This will allow the Department to provide early, clear advice to councils on their responsibilities.”

Cr Miller also said that councils need to be informed now about new codes or changes that the Department plans for the future.

“If we know what is coming, we can prepare and make sure changes we make to our systems now won’t need to be re-engineered in a couple of months,” he said.

For more information, download the full report.

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