The New South Wales State Government will spend $4.5 million on a pilot program aimed at slashing assessment times for regionally significant development applications.
Thirteen regional councils in the state have been given a $350,000 grant to appoint and upskill staff, improve technology and engage planning panel to reduce assessment times by at least 25 per cent.
NSW Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes said the program would speed up assessment times for regionally significant development applications for projects valued at more than $30 million.
“This will enable complex projects to get up and running more quickly by cutting determination times from an initial baseline of 366 days to 275 days by June, 2023,” Stokes said.
“More resources for councils means better outcomes for the community.
“This program will help get shovels in the ground sooner to deliver new homes, vital infrastructure and create more jobs.”
Developments are considered as regionally significant if they are valued at more than $30 million or more than $5 million for council-related development projects or those lodged on behalf of the Crown.
Stokes said the 13 councils included in the pilot program were selected based on the number of regionally significant DAs received or their assessment times to allow the program to have maximum impact.
UDIA New South Wales chief executive Steve Mann said the pilot program was a step in the right direction, but the state would still be the worst in the country for assessment times.
“If NSW aims to be the Premier state in everything it does, why when it comes to the planning system, are even the proposed improvements keeping NSW last behind the other states,” Mann said.
“NSW needs to get more ambitious if it is to tackle the housing and affordability crisis we face throughout the state.”