NSW councils oppose state planning proposals

NSW councils have raised concerns with a proposal announced by the State Government that allows developments in small lots to be approved in 10 days with no consultation.

Community feedback is being sought on NSW Government plans to slash approval times for new homes and home extensions on small lots by up to 190 days, while retaining neighbourhood privacy and amenity.

Minister for Planning, Tony Kelly, has released a discussion paper outlining proposed improvements to the NSW Housing Code which is on public exhibition from 5 July-6 August, 2010.

The provisions – which apply to structures like terraces and semi detached houses in inner city areas – will mean changes to shared walls and first story developments will be classified as complying development.

"Changes to small lot developments are better managed by a council with careful assessment and the ability to let residents and neighbours know exactly what's happening," says President of the Local Government Association Cr Genia McCaffery.

"These changes have the potential to change the look and feel of our streets and suburbs with negative consequences for local residents, including loss of privacy and sunlight.

"Under this proposal, residents will have no notification or say on what goes on around them – even on changes to a wall they share with their next-door neighbour, which is unfair.

"It's more appropriate to classify small scale, low-risk and minimal impact developments – like changes to a kitchen or minor extensions on the ground level – as complying.

"But changes like first story additions and altering shared walls need to be assessed by councils.

Mr Kelly said the proposed amendments will allow new dwelling houses, attic conversions, extensions, basements, garages, carports and rear lane developments to be approved within 10 days by an accredited certifier, if they meet a strict design code.

“We are already seeing significant improvements in the uptake of the code, with a number of councils reporting between 80 and 100 per cent of their 10-day complying development approvals are via the code,” the Minister said.

“These changes could therefore extend these benefits to more homeowners, particularly when proposals for new dwellings in areas where a new small lots code would commonly apply are taking anywhere between 62 and 202 days to get approved.

Proposed amendments to the Code include:

  • Extending the existing code to lots at least 300 square metres in size (down from the current minimum size of 450 square metres) and a road frontage of at least 10 metres (down from 12 metres);
  • Developing a new part of the code which specifically applies to small lots at least 200 square
    metres and a frontage of between 6-10 metres;
  • Allowing minor external alterations such as enlarging windows and doors; and,
  • Requiring at least 30 per cent of small lots to remain undeveloped and limits on maximum floor area and height.

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