Great result following audit of Councils Development Application process

Northern Beaches

Northern Beaches Council was one of three councils selected by the NSW Auditor-General to participate in a Performance Audit of Development Applications – Assessment and Determination Stages – and we have passed with flying colours with no recommendations made.

Performance audit reports provide information to the NSW Government and the public about how well government programs and services are delivered and aim to improve public administration. They also examine whether programs and services are delivered efficiently, economically, and in accordance with the law.

The audit was conducted by the NSW Audit Office over a nine-month period, and the review focused on over 4,700 development applications lodged and determined between 1 July 2019 and 30 June 2021 with an estimated total construction cost of $1.8 billion.

Northern Beaches Mayor Michael Regan said the NSW Auditor-General’s Performance Report has validated Council’s efforts and he commended staff for their thorough and diligent processes.

“I am pleased to advise that the Auditor-General has made no recommendations for Northern Beaches Council concerning Development Applications or any process improvements.

“The audit assessed whether the selected councils had effectively assessed and determined development applications and whether the councils and the Department of Planning and Environment effectively supported independent planning panels to determine development applications in compliance with relevant legislation, regulations, and government guidance.

“It just goes to show, even though we are the third most populated council area within greater Sydney, good governance, thorough processes and transparency mean we don’t drop the ball and continue to maintain the highest level of integrity and focus on continual improvement when assessing development applications.” Mayor Regan said.

The Auditor-General findings include:

  • Council has established processes to support compliant and effective assessment and determination of development applications.
  • Council has a clear governance and risk management framework for development assessment that sets out roles, responsibilities, and delegations.
  • Council’s approach to managing conflicts of interest promotes transparency.
  • Council has established processes to deliver consistent, quality assessment of development applications.
  • Council transparently documents assessment reports, supporting information, and determination outcomes; and
  • Council has established processes to effectively support the Northern Beaches Local Planning Panel.

Today, the Auditor-General tabled the Development Assessment Performance Audit Report to Parliament.

Audited councils were selected from a range of criteria including the number, value, and types of development applications determined in 2018/19; average determination times; appeals against determinations and Land and Environment Court outcomes; as well as local government area demographics.

Local Councils in NSW are responsible for assessing local and regional development under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.

The other audited councils were Hills Shire Council and Byron Shire Council who are now required to implement the recommendations of the Auditor-Generals report.

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