Bega Valley Shire Council is reporting longer than usual processing times for development applications.
Council is attributing the delays to a spike in interest in local real estate, plus a large number of development applications from people who lost their homes in the Black Summer bushfires.
Council’s acting director of community, environment and planning, Keith Tull, said the rise in customer enquiries and applications has fully stretched the development assessment team.
“Our DA Hub [Development Hub] staff are working to their limit while maintaining the professional standards required to assess every application on its merits,” he said.
“While everyday work from people wanting to build or add to their properties continues to arrive on our officers’ desks, we are reassuring all bushfire-impacted people their enquiries will always be prioritised.
“If you lost your home or require development consent to replace a home or business infrastructure damaged in the summer bushfires, your case will be moved to the front-end of the queue.
“However, with so many people affected, the front-end of the queue is a busy place, and processing times for applications and enquiries are still taking longer than we hoped for.
“We understand that finding yourself having to contend with complex planning regulations while experiencing the trauma of losing a family home so unexpectedly can at times seem insurmountable.
“Finding yourself in this situation will, of course, mean you have more questions to ask and we invite anyone with an enquiry to get in touch or browse our website for pre-lodgement advice.”
Mr Tull said people just starting the rebuilding process may wish to consider a fast-tracked assessment process.
“Seeking a complying development differs to a standard development application in that a building designer can work with the customer to draft plans that fit within predetermined regulations,” he said. “This can significantly speed up the process, delivering planning and construction approval in as little as 30 days.
“We understand that a complying development may not be for everyone, and for customers wanting to submit a more complex application, it is worth seeking advice from a planning professional or attending one of our hosted workshops run by industry experts.
“Council recently hosted workshops run by the Australian Institute of Architects’ Tim Lee, who along with DA Hub staff, answered a wide range of rebuilding and development questions. Similar workshops will be hosted towards the end of the year so please keep an eye on our website for the latest dates.
“Seeking planning approval at any time is complicated. We’re here to help our customers navigate this and guide them towards rebuilding more resilient homes.”
Further information is available at Bega Valley Shire Council’s Planning and Development page, via council’s Pathway Home page, or by contacting the Development Hub by email or calling 02 6499 2209.
Access to planning professionals and help with navigating pre-lodgement paperwork can be sought through the Bega Valley Shire Council’s Bushfire Recovery Support Service, which can also be contacted by email or by calling 02 6499 2345.