Over the past four years, the average development application determination timeframes have escalated by 100 days, to 357 days for projects with a value over $20 million (Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, 2020).
To remove blockages in the planning system and assist NSW back on the track to recovery post-pandemic, the NSW Government has established the Planning Delivery Unit (PDU) within the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.
Working alongside with State Government agencies, industries, and local councils, the PDU aims to resolve delays that are delaying approvals of development applications, post-consent approvals, or judgements on planning proposals. The focus is on State and regional significant development, precinct planning and priority planning proposals (NSW Planning, 2020).
The PDU team is led by former Liverpool City Council CEO Kiersten Fishburn and will embrace 30 senior specialist case managers. This will cover proposals/projects facing delays because of referral or concurrence requests undecided by government agencies, unresolved council assessment issues restricting council decisions, or complex environmental issues (NSW Planning, 2020).
Why has the PDU been established?
The PDU aims to significantly shorten approval timeframes, working with agencies to eliminate blockages and resolve issues to ensure that determination on projects would be made more effectively and quickly. According to the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (2020), the PDU team will:
- Operate a project management service for industry, councils and government agencies.
- Ensure agency involvement, particularly focusing advice on relevant issues.
- Ensure appropriate resources to support assessments, fix backlogs and build capacity in councils and agencies including a “flying squad” for councils and in agencies.
- Realign agency referral processes in collaboration with councils and agencies to support continued rollout of “e-Planning” and “Back of house” process improvements.
- Focus on the collaborative whole of government solutions to projects and the use of the Planning Secretary’s legislative step-in powers.
What are the PDU’s priorities?
In addition to assisting individual development application progress, the PDU team has set four initial projects prioritised which would create opportunities for over 66,500 new jobs and 50,000 new homes across Greater Sydney (NSW Planning, 2020).
The four priority projects contain:
- The Parramatta Road Corridor Strategy: Including transport and access facilitation and deliver up to 27,000 new homes and 50,000 jobs along Parramatta Road.
- St Leonards Crows Nest 2036 Plan: Including progress new Metro Station at Crows Nest and provide 6,800 homes and 16,500 jobs.
- Glenfield Precinct: Including the re-imaging of the Hurlstone Agricultural College site to develop a new mix-use precinct with a sporting hub, allow up to 7,000 new homes.
- Marsden Park North (and West Schofields) Precinct: Including finalising a Voluntary Planning Agreement to unlock 10,000 new homes, 18 new local parks and playing fields, improve connections of road and pedestrian.
Providing additional development opportunities?
Although the PDU would focus on fast-tracking priority developments, the NSW Government has underlined that it does not lessen planning assessments or offer green light for approval judgements, or change NSW planning laws. The same balances and checks that aims to achieve evidence-based assessments, community consultation and transparency will remain applied.
However, with the support of PDU concept, a similar process could be adopted by all local councils to enable the timely assessment for all development application and rezoning. The PDU is essential to assist unlock the thousands of smaller development applications which are being held up because of a lack of different parties’ collaboration in the application assessments currently. With the coordination with government agencies, councils and developers, expediting infrastructure delivery in select areas, smart developers and investors should remain alert for the potential and significant development opportunities benefits.
Mitigating risks and maximising profit in property development.
Want to contribute any thoughts or require more information? We invite you to join us for an exclusive 8-week Property Development Insights Series with only one spot remaining! Designed to provide aspiring developers with a comprehensive review of the processes required to undertake development projects through a series of lecture series / discussions provided by five expert professionals in the industry. We also offer an online webinar option!
Date: Tuesday evenings 6:00pm – 8:45pm; 22nd September 2020 to 17th November 2020 (excluding 6th of October)
Venue: Excen Corporate Centre, 133 Alexander Street, Crows Nest NSW – 10 min walk from St Leonards train station, 2 hour free parking available nearby.