New South Wales

NSW Government seeks to expand 10-day approval process

THE New South Wales Government has placed on public exhibition a proposal to expand the 10-day approval process that would allow certain buildings and works to be approved within 10 days by an accredited certifier, if they conform to a "strict" design code.

The proposed changes to the NSW Housing Code have been placed on public exhibition from 5 July to 6 August 2010. Proposed amendments to the Code include:

  • Extending the existing code to lots at least 300 square metres in size (down from the current minimum size of 450 square metres) and a road frontage of at least 10 metres (down from 12 metres);
  • Developing a new part of the code which specifically applies to small lots at least 200 square metres and a frontage of between 6-10 metres;
  • Allowing minor external alterations such as enlarging windows and doors; and
  • Requiring at least 30% of small lots to remain undeveloped and limits on maximum floor area and height.

Planning Minister Tony Kelly said the proposed amendments will allow new dwelling houses, attic conversions, extensions, basements, garages, carports and rear lane developments to be approved within 10 days by an accredited certifier, if they meet a strict design code.

"We are already seeing significant improvements in the uptake of the code, with a number of councils reporting between 80 and 100% of their 10-day complying development approvals are via the code," Mr Kelly said.

"These changes could therefore extend these benefits to more homeowners, particularly when proposals for new dwellings in areas where a new small lots code would commonly apply are taking anywhere between 62 and 202 days to get approved.

Mr Kelly estimated that the change to the Code would benefit approximately 150,000 lots across metropolitan Sydney. He said the proposed changes have been developed in consultation with local government, industry groups and are "designed to protect the rights and amenity of neighbours."

However, the NSW Local Government and Shires Association expressed concern with some of the proposed changes, in particular, provisions that allow developments in small lots to be approved in 10 days with no consultation.

"Changes to small lot developments are better managed by a council with careful assessment and the ability to let residents and neighbours know exactly what's happening," said President of the Local Government Association, Cr Genia McCaffery.

Cr Genia McCaffery said that while it is appropriate for minor and low-risk developments to be classified as complying, changes such as first story storey additions and alterations to shared walls need to be assessed by councils. She said the Association would be discussing its concerns with the Planning Minister.

More information on the proposed changes to NSW Housing Code are available at the NSW Housing Code Portal at <http://housingcode.planning.nsw.gov.au/>.

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