Upper Lachlan Shire Council have released details of a report looking into longer waiting times for services with the finger being pointed at increasing demand for housing and development
Included in the Business Paper for council's Ordinary Meeting of May 19, the report has detailed the factors that are resulting in extra workload on Environment and Planning department staff.
Director of Environment and Planning, Alex Waldron said that NSW, and Australia as a whole are experiencing unprecedented demand for regional housing, land and development and Upper Lachlan is no exception.
"As a result of this unprecedented demand, the Environment and Planning department is experiencing a significant increase in the number of queries, planning Certificates, developer contributions queries, Subdivisions, re-zoning applications/queries, Development Applications being submitted to the planning portal and all Construction Certificates/inspections associated with development," she said.
"As the department has become overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work, the wait time for many services, including the determination time for Development Applications, has increased."
In October 2021, in response to the pressures being placed on the NSW planning system, the NSW Department of Planning Regional Housing Task Force released its independent report reflecting the community's experiences of housing and the planning system in regional NSW with recommendations for how the planning system can address housing supply and affordability in regional communities.
In summary, the report highlights pressures on the planning system;
The report further confirmed that attracting qualified staff was a problem for regional and remote councils, with a general shortage of qualified certifiers, building surveyors and planners reported and many of the consultant services are centred in metropolitan or larger regional centres
In March 2022, in response to these findings, the Regional Housing Flying Squad Program was set up. They have engaged with a panel of planning consultants to conduct assessments for DAs for regional housing on behalf of councils.
Regional councils will be able to nominate DAs that deliver regional housing, through a formal Expression of Interest process, which will be assessed against predetermined criteria by an evaluation panel.
Upper Lachlan Shire Council has expressed an interest in participating in this program to gain assistance with DA assessment volumes.
Measures implemented internally by Council to ease the burden on the Department include:
"It should be noted that all regional Councils are in the same position, and the flow on from this s that it has become more difficult to employ external planning consultants to assist with the backlog," Ms Waldron said.
"These attempts have been ongoing since September 2021, but Council continues to review its services, service delivery and staffing to address the situation."
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