More pressure for developers

PROPOSED legislation aimed at speeding up development approvals is also set to put greater pressure on developers, says a Gold Coast solicitor. Hickey Lawyers partner Damien Hodgson, says while the Sustainable Planning Bill 2009 was designed to fast track approvals, developers would also bear additional burden in ensuring the process continued moving forward.

“Under the Bill, the timeframe for developers to take certain steps has been reduced and, therefore, the ‘speeding’ up in the process will be on the end of the applicant as well as the council,” says Hodgson.

“This will put increased pressure on developers just as much as council, which has been criticised in the past for taking too long in assessing applications. There are also new requirements in terms of what is required for an application to be a properly made application, which has the potential to substantially increase the cost and time associated with preparing a development application.”

Hodgson reiterated that two changes of particular interest to the development industry will be the introduction of ‘deemed approvals’ and ‘compliance assessment’.

“Under the deemed approval mechanism, code assessable development applications (excluding certain specified applications) will be deemed approved if not dealt with and decided by council within the prescribed timeframe,” he says.

“This will put pressure on council to make sure the assessment of these applications happens promptly. The compliance assessment will see certain development applications fast-tracked.

“How useful these new mechanisms will be will not be known until the scope of the applications to which they can apply becomes clear.”

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