Building Development Approval Process
Ms MEGARRITY: My question without notice is directed to the Minister Assisting the Minister for Infrastructure and Planning (Planning Administration). How is the Government improving and streamlining the building development approval process?
Ms BEAMER: Recently my colleague the Minister for Infrastructure and Planning, and Minister for Natural Resources informed the House of a series of reviews of planning policies. We want to cut through the red tape to get the planning and approvals process working more efficiently and more smoothly, thereby saving time and money for users, such as councils, planners, developers, builders, and ultimately mums and dads—home owners. We are reviewing State environmental planning policy [SEPP] 71 and SEPP 5, and we are streamlining PlanFIRST. We have begun the process of getting systems and planning working a whole lot better. Today I am pleased to inform the House of the next step—a total review and overhaul of the building development approvals [DAs]. This Government is determined to introduce faster, simpler and more efficient DA processes. The current DA process can be cumbersome, costly and mind numbingly tedious.
Ms Seaton: Point of order: The Minister is outlining Government policy. Mr Acting-Speaker, I ask you to direct her to make a ministerial statement so the Opposition has a chance to rebut her claims about the planning system.
The ACTING-SPEAKER: Order! The Minister is answering a question; she is not making a ministerial statement.
Ms BEAMER: In many cases, delays cause frustration to the applicants who can be big developers, builders or mums and dads who want to put another bedroom on the back of their house. These delays and these inefficiencies cost money. In the long run, they mean higher prices.
The ACTING-SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Baulkham Hills to order.
Ms BEAMER: In some cases housing applications are taking up to 80 days to process. Recently I was informed of a case when a council debated for 40 minutes the approval of a 1.2 metre high fence—a fence that is shorter than I am. At the completion of the debate, the resolution was that the council would carry out a site inspection to assess the impact of that 1.2 metre fence. My colleague highlighted to the House the number of applications that have come before PlanningNSW under SEPP 71 where councils were dealing with barbecues. Why should a council have to deal with a barbecue, or with a 1.2 metre fence? Why should they have to work through cumbersome processes to look after swimming pools? The review of development applications will investigate the whole DA process under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act.
The review will look at the way each council processes its development applications; it will look for the good points; it will look at councils that efficiently process DA applications. The review will decide whether those good processes can be applied to all councils. We want this practice and we want to cut red tape. The review will assess the impact that government and non-government agencies have on the DA process. Throughout the review the Government will consult with all parties including builders, developers, planners, councils and, most importantly, the consumers. Today I inform the House that I will establish a regulation review task force to conduct that review. The task force will be headed by the respected industry figure, Mr Neil Bird. Other members of the task force will include Bruce McDonald, from Penrith Council; Elizabeth Couch, from the Housing Industry Association; Peter Williams, from the University of New South Wales; and Robert Barnaby, from Masterton Homes.
The ACTING-SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Coffs Harbour to order.
Ms BEAMER: We can draw on their expertise and target where the biggest differences can be made. We can cut red tape, time and costs.
The ACTING-SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Davidson to order.
Ms BEAMER: I want this task force to get to work immediately. It will have a short working period in which to report back—I recommend October. I look forward to receiving solid, constructive recommendations on making the development approval system quicker, simpler and more efficient.