Development Applications received and processed by Wingecarribee Shire Council over the summer period reveal the Southern Highlands is experiencing a building boom.
Figures revealed at Wednesday’s Ordinary Meeting of Council show 150 Development Applications were determined by Council from a total of 153 applications received between 22 November 2020 to 22 January 2021.
Similar increases were recorded for the period between 1 July 2020 and 24 January 2021.
“In just over six months to January Council has received 1,156 Development Applications,” said Council’s Deputy General Manager of Corporate, Strategy and Development Services, Mark Pepping.
“This represents a significant 41 per cent increase on the same period last year,” he said.
“More importantly we’ve received and processed 34 development applications to date from bush fire impacted residents.”
Mr Pepping said 17 of the development applications received from bush fire affected residents were for new dwellings with the remainder for outbuildings and associated structures.
Official impact assessment reports show that 354 buildings across the Shire were impacted by the 2019/20 summer bush fires. Mr Pepping stressed that Council staff were prioritising all incoming bush fire impacted building replacement applications with the majority of applications determined within 20 days of lodgement.
As per Council’s previous resolution, all development-related fees for bush fire impacted residents continue to be waived.
“To date $114,460 in Council fees have been waived for these residents still doing it tough.”
Mr Pepping said the record number of development applications was crucial to driving economic stimulus.
“We’re already seeing numerous positives flow-on from these development applications being determined,” he said. “With all of this increased building activity we’re seeing more tradies on the tools and greater opportunities for apprentices.”
“This in turn promotes greater retail and commercial activity which can be seen right across the Shire.
“Growing our economy is always important but never more so than during a global pandemic which has impacted numerous local economic sectors,” he added.
Mr Pepping said several reasons were responsible for the spike in increased development applications.
“We know that many people are wanting to escape the cities and the Southern Highlands is high on the list for tree changers,” he said.
“Our Shire has always been rich in beauty and opportunity.”
Mr Pepping said the move from the traditional office environment to home and remote work locations was also luring more residents to the Shire.
“The influx of new residents confirms that Council’s strategy to prioritise development activity was a prudent course of action following last summer’s devastating bush fires.
“There’s no doubt the Southern Highlands is a hive of activity right now and definitely the place to be.”