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Increased Council and Court Powers under the recently reformed Environment Planning and Assessment Act

The recently reformed Environmental Planning & Assessment Act 1979 (the Act) continues to be rolled out over the first half of 2018. As well as the other amendments aforementioned in our previous article, one of the major changes to the Act is with regard to the increased powers given to Local Councils and Courts when dealing with complying development certificates for local development applications.

In order to achieve the NSW Government’s primary purpose “to promote confidence in our state’s planning system”, the Act aims to enable Local Councils and Courts to adequately and appropriately deal with developments and their relative certificates with more ease by granting them increased powers in this area.

Below is an outline of the major increases/changes in powers issued to Local Councils and Courts:

 

Powers to suspend work under a complying development certificate

Under the new amendments, Councils will have new investigative powers to suspend work under a complying development certificate for up to 7 days. Due to the generally fast paced nature of Complying developments, Council authorities have often found it difficult in using their current enforcement powers to ensure that improper or flawed complying developments are not being built. This new amendment seeks to address this issue, as it allows Councils to completely suspend works on a site while the 7 day investigative period happens, ensuring that they are able to fully exercise their enforcement options with regard to complying developments.
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Online Development Applications

The NSW Department of Planning and Environment (the Department) has announced plans to move the lodgement of Development Applications (DAs) online, saving significant time for applicants.

The average time taken to prepare and submit a traditional DA is up to ten (10) days. The Department’s proposed online system has the potential to reduce this time to thirty (30) minutes.

Whilst some Local Councils currently allow online submissions of DAs, the Department proposes a unified system which will be a “one stop shop” for development applications and complying development certificates. In the future the system will connect any type of application to be lodged to any local council within New South Wales.

Features of the Proposed Online DA Lodgement System:

  • standardised requirements for documents submitted with DAs
  • additional contextual guidance provided to applicants
  • function to check whether or not complying development can be undertaken on a property
  • submission and lodgement of complying development certificates online
  • viewing of spatial data of a property online
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