Fast track complying developments making up a quarter of housing approvals: NSW

Fast track complying developments making up a quarter of housing approvals: NSW
Fast track complying developments making up a quarter of housing approvals: NSW

According to the latest Local Development Performance Monitoring Report, the number of home builders using complying development to get faster and cheaper approvals is growing. But despite complying developments making up 25% of all housing approvals  in New South Wales last financial year, some are saying that the state's approval process is still unacceptably inefficient.

Housing approvals on using complying development take on average 17 days for councils to determine compared to an average of 68 days for regular development applications, according to the 2012-13 report, released this month.

The report also noted that complying development applications were up 12% from the previous year, with their total value up 35% on the previous year, at $3 billion. The new complying development process also appears to have increased overall housing application approval efficiency at NSW councils, with the average time taken by councils to determine regular development approvals down three days since its introduction.

NSW Planning and Infrastructure Minister Brad Hazzard has commented that the fast track process allows home builders to “take the hassle” out of planning.

“Home builders can save up $7,000 on the cost of building a new home and get their project ticked off extremely quickly if they meet the rules for complying development,” said Hazzard.

“The NSW government expects to see further increases in fast track development approvals as a result of recent expansions of complying development to include straightforward renovations such as building a garage door or putting in a foot path.”

But despite the increasing use of complying development applications, the NSW approvals process is still slow, says the Urban Development Institute of Australia NSW (UDIA). According to the UDIA, the approvals process in NSW is three times slower than that in Queensland.

According to UDIA chief executive Stephen Albin, NSW cannot compete with fast tracked development on a national level.

“Project delivery in this state is so choked up in outdated, inconsistent bureaucratic red tape - a symptom of a 33 year old planning act,” he said.

“NSW cannot compete on an even footing with other States when it comes to investment and job certainty in the property construction sector.

“The number of complying development applications in Queensland is at 80% with development applications generally approved far more efficiently than in NSW.”

While Albin said that the number of complying developments processed in NSW last year was a good start, the state still has a long way to go.

“Let me be clear, streamlined approvals do not provide a green light for all development but a more efficient way to manage the process,” he said.

“To get Code Assessable Development approved in NSW applicants have to meet more than 20 strict criteria including privacy, energy usage, landscaping and floor areas to name a few,” he said.

The Local Development Performance report also showed that the value of total developments approved in NSW was up 11% on the previous year, at almost $25 billion. However, overall development activity only increased marginally from the previous year, up 0.5% (74,875 approvals).

Almost all determinations were valued at less than $1 million, with Coolamon Shire, Ryde, Junee Shire and Brewarrina Shire the local government areas with the highest proportion of complying development applications.


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