A new approach to assessment

WHAT IS COUNCIL’S APPROACH TO DEVELOPMENT ASSESSMENT?

Before explaining the various requirements that relate to lodging a development application it is useful for you to have an understanding of Council’s approach to assessing development applications.  This is particularly relevant if you have experience with different councils.

You would have noticed that there is a lot of construction activity happening across Sydney to house a growing population.  Sutherland Shire is part of the growing city and has experienced unprecedented levels of development activity over the past few years.This change brings challenges, including achieving high quality outcomes in the urban environment that provide good places for people to live, and resourcing and managing the higher volume of development proposals lodged.Council faces strong competition in the marketplace for qualified and experienced professionals to undertake assessment work, and has finite financial capacity.  It is essential that we use the resources we have in the most effective way while also ensuring the best possible experience for our community in the development application process, which is why we have made some changes to our processes.

A NEW APPROACH

We have been committed to working closely with applicants to support them throughout the application process and up to the approval stage.  In doing so, we have identified that in some cases this involves working through multiple revisions of proposals that have substantial non-compliances.  The repeated re-assessment of amended plans consumes a large amount of resources, which can hinder the process and provides a frustrating experience for everyone.We want to continue to support all applicants in the best possible and most efficient way.To get the most out of our resources and in response to feedback from previous applicants, we are changing to a new approach:

  • We will undertake an initial assessment, hear what neighbours have to say, gather input from internal and external experts, and then let you know in writing what issues need to be addressed.
  • We will ask you to consider the issues we raise, come up with possible solutions and options in draft form, and communicate them to us.
  • We will offer the opportunity to meet to discuss solutions, and provide feedback before you prepare and lodge an amended submission.
  • Once an amended submission is made we will re-assess it, and re-notify neighbours if necessary.
  • If the issues we raised have been addressed, or can be resolved with conditions or minor amendments to the plans, we will finalise the assessment and approve the application.
  • If the issues we raised are not addressed, we will refuse the application.

SO WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

This new approach will give all applicants more time earlier in the process and so we can meet to resolve issues.We will not provide opportunities for multiple sets of amended information to be submitted that will each require reassessment. It’s important to understand that any issues raised with applicants, have been carefully considered by Council, and applicants are expected to address the issues raised by providing the information requested or by making meaningful amendments to the proposal. If applicants choose not to resolve the issues raised, the application may be refused.

We hope that this different approach will speed up the assessment process for all and we welcome feedback as we work together to make the process more efficient.

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