NSW councils improve planning process

A planning report commissioned by the NSW Government has revealed that the number of local councils with extreme planning processing times has more than halved.
The 2009-10 Local Development Performance Monitoring Report  showed ten councils had a mean gross determination time for development applications (Das) of over 100 days in 2009-10 compared with 21 councils in 2008-09.
Minister for Planning, Tony Kelly stated in the report, the ongoing efforts by the number of councils reviewing their assessment processes and meeting the challenges of regulatory change were clear in this year’s results.
Released in early February, the report found councils with the most approvals for 2009-10 were City of Sydney Council, Blacktown City Council, Lake Macquarie City Council and Wollongong City Council.
The councils with the highest numbers of complying development certificates (CDC) approvals for 2009-10 were Sydney City Council, Port Macquarie-Hastings Council, Sutherland Shire Council and Tamworth Regional Council.
Of the council areas with the highest number of CDC determinations, those with the highest proportion of CDCs determined under the Codes SEPP were Hornsby (95 per cent of CDCs under Codes SEPP), Blacktown (82 per cent) and Wollongong (55 per cent).
Six council areas were found to have had over 50 per cent of their determinations processed as complying development in 2009-10 (the same number as reported in 2008-09).
These councils were: Conargo Shire Council (68 per cent); Coolamon Shire Council (66 per cent); Port Macquarie-Hastings Council (58 per cent); Junee Shire Council (54 per cent); Lachlan Shire Council (52 per cent); and Uralla Shire Council (51 per cent).
According to the report, on average councils took 14 days to determine CDCs and the median determination time for CDCs was seven days.
The five NSW councils with the lowest mean gross determination time for DAs in 2009-10 were: Temora Shire Council (six days); Berrigan Shire
Council (13 days); Conargo Shire Council (16 days); Bland Shire Council (17 days); and Urana Shire Council (18 days).
While the five NSW councils that showed high mean gross determination time for DAs in 2009-10 were: Cooma-Monaro Council (163 days); Botany Bay City Council (128 days); Gunnedah Shire Council (117 days); Leichhardt Municipal Council (113 days); Upper Lachlan Shire Council (110 days)
President of the Local Government Association, Keith Rhoades, congratulated NSW councils on their efforts and look forward to working with the government to continue the efficient processing of DAs.
"The number of DAs processed has increased by seven per cent, while the average determination time reduced by seven days," Cr Rhoades said.
"Councils also managed an increased workload, with the number of DAs processed increasing from 58 to 63 per staff member – a great result.”
However he said the difference between DAs in metropolitan areas to those in rural and regional NSW, must be taken into account.
"You also need to remember that the time taken to process a DA is not the only performance measure – there are a whole range of other factors that can affect the approval of a DA,” he said.
“For example, an application lacking information and detail will draw out the assessment process.”
Cr Rhodes believed larger and more “contentious developments” will take longer go thorough a council’s assessment, to ensure all impacts were properly examined.

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