7 July 2017

New consultation rules proposed for developers

| Ian Bushnell
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New Belconnen Development

Developers will need to show they have consulted effectively with the community under new draft guidelines.

Developers will have to hold face-to-face meetings with the community and submit a report on how they dealt with concerns in any subsequent development application, under new draft guidelines released for public comment by the ACT Government.

The draft guidelines also require developers to make key documents available for the public to view online on the developer’s website and/or at another appropriate location.

The documents include the site plan, elevations and landscaping plans, including proposed materials and finishes.

The draft Pre DA Consultation Guidelines set out the minimum engagement requirements for developers where the proposal is for:

  • a building with three or more storeys and 15 or more dwellings
  • a building with a gross floor area of more than 5000 m²
  • more than one building, where the buildings have a total gross floor area of more than 7000m²
  • a building or structure more than 25 metres above finished ground level
  • a variation of a lease to remove its concessional status.

While developers are currently required to consult with the community before submitting a DA to the planning and land authority on a major project, there are no guidelines on how they should do this.

The head of the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development directorate, Ben Ponton, said it was critically important that the community had its say when large developments were going up in their neighbourhoods.

“We want the community to add value to development decisions based on local knowledge and ideas,” he said.

He said the guidelines were meant to help developers conduct effective consultation with the community before DAs were submitted.

The draft statement says the guidelines aim to:

  • encourage partnerships and innovation between industry and the community
  • provide clear guidance to proponents on what level of community consultation is expected for prescribed developments
  • ensure proponents engage with the community as early as possible in the design process
  • ensure pre-DA community consultation where it is required
  • achieve high-quality design outcomes
  • ensure genuine consultation and engagement occurs

The draft says that it is preferable the concerns of the community be dealt with at the outset of any significant development project, rather than during the assessment process for a development application.

“Inclusive informed planning development will ensure the ACT’s built form will better meet the needs and desires of the Canberra community now and into the future,” it says.

Community engagement on the draft Pre DA Consultation Guidelines will run until August 21.

To have your say go to https://www.yoursay.act.gov.au/pre-da-consultation-guidelines

Do developers need to consult more or is this just another regulatory burden for the property industry?

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Leon Arundell5:54 pm 08 Jul 17

The North Canberra Community Council asked for these guidelines in 2015.
Since 2012, developers have been legally required to consult with the community before lodging certain types of significant development applications.
The lack of guidelines allowed one developer to ‘consult’ by letterboxing adjoining properties and holding a community meeting. The Development Application did not say what information was provided in the letters, who if anyone was invited to the community meeting, who if anyone attended, or what if anything was discussed at that meeting. Another developer simply posted letters inviting community organisations to contact them within seven working days of the date of the letters – which is not always practical for a volunteer organisation that meets only once a month.

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