Why do I need a town planner?
The Development Application process can be complex and fraught with hidden problems. An experienced town planner can help you to navigate your way through the regulations so that you can achieve the best possible outcome.
By Barry Cotten
Several different pieces of legislation inform the town planning process in every community across Australia. These include the Land and Environment Plan (LEP) and Development Control Plan (DCP), other planning instruments such as State Environmental Planning Policies and local regulations.
These laws, rules and regulations all play a vital role in the way we develop our communities, balancing the built environment with natural environments, ensuring we meet social needs and making cultural considerations. And it’s a dynamic process, constantly changing along with community needs and expectations.
In New South Wales, whether you’re proposing a large scale multi-use development or wanting to extend your garage, you need to submit your Development Application to the local council, where it will be judged against strict criteria and debated before you can get the go-ahead to build. With so many regulations to consider and certifications required, it can be complicated to ensure that your submission ‘ticks all the boxes’.
Contrary to popular belief, it’s not always straightforward projects that effortlessly get the nod of approval. For example, plans for a second dwelling or granny flat in the back garden might seem simple enough. Still, there can be a litany of issues arising from location, water flow, drainage, aspect, size and neighbourhood privacy that all need to be addressed before you’re likely you get the go-ahead to proceed. If you’re putting in a pool or renovating the house, you need to get council approval, too.
For this reason, it makes sense to engage a town planner – someone with a sound knowledge of the legislation, someone with experience in the town planning process, someone who can make sure that all of your documentation is prepared meticulously so that the council process runs as smoothly as possible and any associated costs are minimised.
Land and Environment Court
If for any reason, you go through an unsatisfactory process with the local council and don’t successfully have your DA approved, you can lodge a formal objection with the council. Failing that, the other option is to have the matter determined in the Land and Environment Court.
To decide whether it’s worth lodging the application with the Land and Environment Court, it’s best to seek professional advice – it can be a fairly costly process, and it can take several months to have the matter finalised, so it’s worth weighing up all options prior. The court has specific timeframes and requirements for lodgement, and these should also be a consideration. Having a solid, well-documented case is a must before proceeding.
Disputing Development Applications
Town Planners don’t always just work on behalf of developers or homeowners lodging applications for construction or renovations. Sometimes we work for concerned community members who want to dispute plans for a development or building, too.