impact assessable

Public notification - how can you be in the know?

Public consultation for proposed development has always been a major concern for Council, the community, and developers. The objective is for the public to be able to have input on new development happening in their area and to ensure that peoples livelihoods are not impacted upon, but what happens if there is no public notification event?

public consultation

In Queensland, if an applicant lodges a Code Assessable application to Local Council, they do not have a requirement to notify the public about the proposed development. The only time you may be notified is if the proposal is Impact Assessable and you are either an adjoining landowner or see the public notice on the land or in the local paper. 

So if an application is not 'Impact Assessable', how will you know what has been proposed and how it will impact you? A great website that we recommend all landowners or prospective buyers is to subscribe to Planning Alerts. It is a free service that will allow you to set email notification when an application is lodged within a certain distance of your address (e.g. <100m radius).

Under the Planning Act 2016, the public can still lodge a submission against a Code Assessable application and if you are alerted of a development that will negatively (or positively) impact upon your livelihood you can contact the Local Council to organise a submission. If your submission is reasonable and relevant, the Council assessment manager will still be required to take your feedback into consideration. Should Council not consider your submission to be relevant and they approve the proposal, you do not have any appeal rights at the Planning and Environment Court (P&E Court). 

If the proposal is Impact Assessable, you must make a submission within the allocated timeframe advertised on the public notices (usually around 15 business days). Like Code Assessment, Council is required to take your submission into account when making the final decision. Should they approve the development and disregard your submission, unlike Code Assessment, you do have the right to appeal the approval in the P&E Court to have it overturned. This can be an expensive and long process for all involved.

If you find a development in your area that you wish to register your opinion on, call your Local Council and see what your rights are and how you can get involved.

How long does it take to get a development approval?

Almost all developments (no matter the size of the project) will begin by obtaining development approval (DA) from Council. But how long can this take?

Well, how long is a piece of string? You'll hear the horror stories of a DA taking 12 months to gain approval and almost never hear about the ones that only took a week. The timeframe of a DA can really depend upon the complexity of the application, what level of assessment it is(i.e. Code/Impact Assessable) and how many referral agencies it might have. In this article, I explore the standard timeframes associated with a normal development application in Queensland (timeframes will change between state/territory regions).

Code Assessable development application can be expected to take 45 business daysbefore Council issues a decision notice. This timeframe may be longer if Council makes an Information request (up to 3 months) and does not include the time for your town planner to prepare the lodgement documentation.

An Impact Assessable DA has a similar timeframe to a Code Assessable application but includes a 15 business day public notification period (with up to 10 business days in addition for Council to 'assess' any submissions). That is, up to 70 business days.

I have put the statutory timeframes in the below table for you to better understand the process (inclusive of a general 5-10 business day preparation time for your town planner). Please note that timeframes are subject to statutory requirements under the DA Rules, which Council, the Applicant and third parties must abide by. As such, it is very rare that a DA will take longer than the below timeframes:

town planning approval timeframes

As you can see, the DA process can take anywhere between 2 weeks and 4 months in accordance with the statutory timeframes. Once you have obtained your approval, under the Planning Act 2016, a Development Permit (Approval) issued is valid for a 6 year period.

Can it be faster than 9 business days ever? Yes. Most Local Government Areas (LGA) within Queensland will have a fast-tracked process most commonly referred to as 'RiskSMART'. With this process, the majority of Councils will guarantee a 5-business day turnaround for 100% compliant applications. This is because the town planning consultant will prepare all of the approval package just to be 'signed off' by Council. Not everything can be assessed through the RiskSMART process but it is always a good idea to ask your consultant if it is a potential avenue for your DA.

Any feedback or questions, feel free to post a comment.