Local Government NSW (LGNSW) has welcomed new State Government initiatives to ease the application process for development approvals, with Government assurances they wouldn’t add to council running costs or be detrimental to existing residents in local communities.
LGNSW successfully advocated to the NSW Government on behalf of councils to improve the planning processes designed by the State Government through its new ePlanning initiative, with more than 40 councils across the State now accepting online development applications.
LGNSW President Linda Scott said other councils were working through the transition from existing processes to the ePlanning system.
“This new system will speed up many applications and foster faster economic recovery in local communities, which is why LGNSW supported it,” Cr Scott said.
“But we also worked on behalf of councils to get a guarantee from Government that councils would not be left to carry the cost of implementation of the new system.”
Cr Scott said LGNSW will be signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the NSW Government to secure a series of guarantees for councils, including preventing cost shifting, as well as assurances for councils about ongoing system reliability and maintenance.
“Councils have demonstrated their willingness to support streamlined processes for better economic outcomes for their communities,” Cr Scott said.
“For example, around 30 councils – almost a quarter of all NSW councils – have already expressed an interest in the NSW Government’s Planning System Acceleration Program announced in April.”
Cr Scott said while councils supported developments that brought economic benefits to their communities, they were also the frontline defence to ensure new developments enhanced rather than destroyed existing amenity and did not adversely affect infrastructure or services.
The Government’s other new initiative, a specialised Planning Delivery Unit (PDU) that will help to unblock projects that are stuck in the system, was also welcomed by councils.
“Councils appreciate the NSW Government investing in more support to address council concerns with State-led blockages,” Cr Scott said.
“But it is critical that when focussing on the benefits of initiatives such as ePlanning and the PDU that the planning system also deliver quality buildings and public places, rather than just fast processing.
“This has become particularly pertinent in this time, when we are all seeing the significant value and benefit that our local environments provide us.”