One of the most common reasons residents contact me at Inner West Council is to raise concerns about a proposed development application or DA in their neighbourhood. And while I’m always happy to help, many people are surprised when I tell them that, thanks to recent changes made by the NSW Government, Councillors now have very little say over whether a DA is approved or not.
In fact, Councillors no longer have any decision-making power when it comes to DAs. It's all done by Council staff, or in some cases, by an independent panel called the Inner West Planning Panel (IWPP) or a Joint Regional Planning Panel. You can find out more about the IWPP on the Inner West Council website.
Proposals tend to go to the IWPP for one of three reasons:
- The development is worth over $10m. These DAs go to the IWPP for a final decision automatically. Council staff will still review the DA and make recommendations to the IWPP.
- The DA receives 10 or more individual objections during the formal submission process. These DAs are sent to the IWPP for a final decision if Council staff recommend that a particular application should be approved. If Council staff reject the application, their decision is final, subject to any appeal rights – for example, if the applicant decides to challenge the decision in court. Because the 10 objections need to be individual ones, multiple copies of a form letter or petitions won't be counted as multiple submissions. Note: This information is correct as of January 2018. However, draft guidelines currently being considered by the NSW government may mean even DAs Council wishes to reject are still referred to the IWPP for a final decision.
- The development seeks to breach key development standards in the town plans by more than 10%. These key standards are typically the amount of floor space or landscaped area on the site, or the height of the proposed buildings.
This doesn't mean that you shouldn't contact your Councillors if you're concerned a particular DA. I personally find it very useful to know if there are proposals that are worrying residents, or if people are keen to see a particular DA go ahead. But Councillors no longer have the power to call up a DA for review, or to approve or reject applications.
As ever, if you do wish to comment on a DA, the best thing to do is to make a written submission to Council. You'll find the relevant contact details on your notification, or you can send your submissions to us at firstname.lastname@example.org (don't forget to include the DA reference number, and if possible, the name of the Council officer overseeing that DA).
If you’ve made a written submission, and the DA is referred to the IWPP, you’ll also be invited to address the panel before they make their decision. Again, you’ll find more information on the IWPP process on Council's website.
To find out more about DAs, visit the Inner West Council website.
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