How to Expedite DA Processing Time-frames

Nobody likes delays. Time is money and that’s certainly true in property development. Holding costs are usually incurred on property prior to the development being complete (i.e. the property is vacant and does not generate an income or the costs of holding the property cannot be recovered by the income). The holding costs also includes ‘opportunity loss’ which is the lost income if the money was to be invested in a lower risk investment option such as a term deposit instead. Therefore, it is usually a priority for most persons involved in property development to get through the process as quickly as possible. In this blog, we highlight the most common delays to Council processing times for development applications (DA) so that you’ll know how to minimise this part of the process.

In Queensland, most delays stem from poorly made applications that fail to provide all of the information that is either required under law (mandatory information) or information required by Council to properly assess the application. The most common mistakes are:

  1. Not providing the correct landowner consent – For most Local Governments, the landowner’s consent needs to match the name/s recorded on Council’s Rates Record. This is usually the same as a current title search unless the property has been recently transferred and Council’s Rates Record has not been updated to reflect the new ownership. Therefore, if a development application is to be lodged shortly after settlement, proof of ownership should be provided with the owner’s consent to the development application.
  2.  Missing deadlines for complying with statutory assessment time-frames – If the applicant of a development Application doesn’t meet a statutory deadline, the application usually lapses and must be resubmitted. There are however some provisions within the Sustainable Planning Act (SPA) to revive lapsed DAs within certain time-frames of them lapsing. This would result in both cost and time variations for the applicant. If Council, doesn’t meet certain time-frames, depending on the type of application, there are mechanisms for deemed approvals/refusals under the SPA.
  3.  Not being aware of all site constraints – This can result in significant delays for a DA as it might require redesign or additional specialist reporting to be undertaken. If an unexpected issue/constraint arises (usually at the Information and Referral Stage of the Integrated Development Assessment System (IDAS)), the DA assessment time-frame is increased by the length of time it takes the applicant to prepare/obtain the information requested by Council. A well-made application should have little or no additional information requested by Council as it will have been prepared prior to lodgement and the design reflective of all constraints being taken into consideration. As an example, by not knowing or taking into account an overlay constraint such as the High Ecological Significance sub-category of the Biodiversity Overlay in the Brisbane City Plan 2014 (City Plan), it may have significant repercussions for site layout and/or environmental reporting and offsetting requirements.

Our advice is to be as upfront and transparent as possible when preparing a development application because from experience, any missing information will only result in delaying the process.

Choosing not to include information when you are aware that it is required by Council, as a way to save either time or money upfront and hoping it will be overlooked is a mistake… Chances are it won’t be overlooked.
— Your Investment Property Magazine, June 2014

Trust your town planning consultant and don’t withhold information from them. Our quick tip when interviewed by Your Investment Property Magazine for the June 2014 edition, still applies: “Choosing not to include information when you are aware that it is required by Council, as a way to save either time or money upfront and hoping it will be overlooked is a mistake… Chances are it won’t be overlooked.”

Clegg Town Planning always recommends that a robust and competent application be submitted in order to expedite DA processing time-frames. We also recognise that the decision to do so ultimately rests with our clients, but it is our job to fully inform them of potential risks from not supplying information that we identify is likely to be relevant for assessment.

Contact us if you require assistance to prepare your development application or wish to obtain professional town planning advice.