Quembian City Council has secured a new kind of grant from the NSW Government specifically designed to clear pending development applications (DAs).
The number of DAs submitted to the Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council (QPRC) has increased by 20% over the past two years as the region has grown. To make matters worse, the assessment team is running at half staff capacity.
Rebecca Ryan, the recently appointed CEO of QPRC, acknowledged last month that filing delays have caused frustration, referring to the backlog of orders.
“So far this fiscal year, QPRC has received more than 670 DAs, ranging from simple residential additions such as storerooms, pools and pergolas; new and secondary housing; large commercial, industrial and and multifamily development,” she said.
Due to various changes in biodiversity, wildfire and heritage legislation, applications are now approaching 1000 per year, increasing complexity.
At the same time, Ryan said the city council is facing a “significant turnover” of staff in city planning, building surveys and development engineering.
“Filling vacancies in these areas has proven difficult across NSW and many councils are now reporting skills shortages and DA delays in these areas.”
QPRC is currently one of 14 councils in the state to receive $350,000 from the NSW Government’s Faster Local Assessment grant.
The new $4.9 million program is designed to help the Council allocate additional resources and improve processes to shorten the evaluation period. It is hoped that the subsidy will also help address the housing shortage.
Eurobodalla Shire Council and Shoalhaven City Council were also recipients of the Faster Local Assessment Grant.
Along with 128 other NSW Councils, QPRC also received a NSW Planning Portal Application Programming Interface grant. It is designed to streamline her IT connectivity between the NSW Planning Portal and the City Council’s systems, saving her staff the trouble of manually transferring data between the two.
“This funding will help reduce the pressure on our staff and put in place more efficient processes to shorten the timeframe from DA submission to decision,” said Ryan.
“While we have made some progress in completing approvals in the past few weeks, we have another 70 DAs submitted to the NSW planning portal in the same period, which is a testament to housing growth in our region. .”
Developed applications can be tracked on the QPRC website.
Original article published in Riotact by James Coleman.