Merged portfolio will speed up DAs says group

A NSW property development industry group is calling on Premier Morris Iemma to 'elevate' the portfolio of Local Government and merge it with Planning – to form a new Ministry of Urban and Regional Affairs. 

“We believe that the responsibility for the local government approvals process which accounts for more than 95 per cent (or 125,000) development applications in NSW is closely tied to the strategic and statutory planning processes administered by the NSW Department of Planning,” says NSW Urban Taskforce CEO Terry Barnes .

There is an artificial separation of the responsibility for determination of a development application from the strategic land use and assessment processes leading up to determination, he says.

“One function carried out under the local government banner and the other, under the planning banner. They are two parts of a single process and delivery of a development application determination needs better co-ordination and accountability,” Mr Barnes says.

He argues there is no need for a separate ministry for local government as there is strong synergy between local government and planning.

The NSW Department of Planning forecasts that more than 43,000 new homes are required in the state each year for the next four years at least.

“Yet the responsibility for the delivery of the necessary approvals, the construction of the homes, and the local infrastructure to support future residents will be impacted upon by separately administered local government and planning processes," Mr Barnes says.

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