Development application times to be slashed

The time it takes to assess major developments in the Hunter is set to be slashed.

Newcastle and Lake Macquarie will be a part of a new pilot program unveiled by the NSW Government aimed at unlocking more housing, jobs, and local infrastructure.

Assessment times will be slashed by at least 25 per cent as a part of the $4.55 million program.

Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Taylor Martin said the two Councils will each receive $350,000 to fund more experts, better technology and training to cut the time it takes to assess regionally significant development applications, including those valued at more than $30 million.

“This is great news for the region, as it will speed up the planning process for important local developments, creating more homes, jobs and investment,” Taylor Martin said.

“More resources for our local council will mean better outcomes for the community and will see shovels in the ground sooner to deliver vital developments and infrastructure.”

Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes said the program will allow councils to appoint and upskill staff, improve technology, develop guidelines and engage Planning Panels earlier in the assessment process.

“We’ve given 13 councils from Newcastle to Sutherland $350,000 each to speed up assessment times for regionally significant development applications (DAs), including those valued at more than $30 million,” Rob Stokes said.

“This will enable complex projects to get up and running more quickly by cutting determination times from an initial baseline of 366 days to 275 days by June 2023.”

“More resources for local councils means better outcomes for the community. This program will help get shovels in the ground sooner to deliver new homes, vital infrastructure and create more jobs.”

Planning Panels are made up of independent experts and local representatives who determine regionally significant DAs that are assessed by councils, ensuring the best decisions are made for communities.

Development is considered of regional significance when the value is more than $30 million, or more than $5 million in cases where it is council related or lodged on behalf of the Crown.

Councils were chosen to be part of the pilot program, based on the number of regionally significant DAs received or their assessment times to allow the program to have maximum impact. If successful, the program will be rolled out throughout NSW.

Image credit: Lake Macquarie Council Facebook page