Timelines for DA approval may have taken a nose dive in NSW, but this can be overcome with the right legal support.
The merging of local councils by the NSW government has taken its toll on the DA assessment process over the last two years. Many councils have found themselves under resourced in staff and technical expertise, and the knock-on effect for some developers has been devastating. It’s become the norm for DA consent to take between six and twelve months to come through, and the increasing timescales are becoming prohibitive for some developers.
But there is a way to speed up the planning approval process with the right legal know-how. And it’s all about timing.
Moving forward at the 40-day mark
You may not be aware that you have the option to pursue your DA consent through a different legal channel if the council has not yet determined your application 40 days after it was lodged. Under the Environment and Planning Assessment Act, if the 40-day deadline passes, you have the right to deem the application ‘refused’. This means you can try and gain DA approval via the Land and Environment Court by launching an appeal against its ‘refusal’.
There may be cost implications when you bypass the council and seek DA consent through the courts in this way. But looking at the bigger picture, it may be a small price to pay compared to the cost of waiting months and months to achieve DA consent through the local council.
Bringing together the right people at the right time
If you’re a savvy developer looking to accelerate your DA turnaround time, you need to prepare for potential hiccups in the DA approval process at the outset of a project.
TDF’s Pierre Saab, Director and Principal at Macquarie Lawyers, recommends you start working with a legal representative, with experience of residential development appeals, in the early stages of pulling together your DA.
“You need to have conversations like you would have with the town planner and the architect as part of formulating the DA. You should be having these conversations with a lawyer at the same time,” Saab says.