Australian Capital Territory

ACT Government progresses proposal to fast-track major development

ACT Environment and Sustainable Development Minister Simon Corbell last week announced that legislation that aims to help cut through building and construction industry red tape and fast-track priority developments in the Territory has been agreed to in the Assembly.

The Planning and Development (Project Facilitation) Amendment Bill 2014 was agreed to in principle and has now been referred to a committee for more consultation before being debated in May.

"Government will continue to have open and accountable planning decisions while adding certainty, improving efficiency and reducing time delays for major territory projects," Mr Corbell said.

The Bill makes a number of amendments to the Planning and Development Act 2007 to allow the streamlined delivery of key government priorities within the existing planning system. The amendments also introduce efficiencies into the Territory Plan variation and development assessment processes.

"The new process will put key, priority projects to the people of Canberra and the Legislative Assembly for their comment and, in the case of the Legislative Assembly, endorsement," the Minister said.

"The Bill puts in place a process for recognising and giving priority to a special precinct area or a project of major significance. It requires the government to nominate priority projects at the beginning of planning process and consult with the community before seeking endorsement in the Legislative Assembly."

The Bill also allows developers to lodge development applications on the basis of a proposed draft Territory Plan variation, allowing the development application to be notified and assessed before the proposed Territory Plan variation comes into effect, though it will not be able to be decided until after the variation comes into effect.

Development applications and Environment Impact Statements will also be able to be lodged, notified and assessed concurrently, which may save months and even years from the process for environmental assessment of a major proposal.

"The ACT Government is committed to reducing red tape in the building and construction industry but it also wants to ensure major projects with substantial public benefit cannot be held up by third party appeals and unnecessary processes," Mr Corbell said.

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