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Record request for Planning Certificates puts Council under strain

15 April, 2015Posted in: Development
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Less than four months into the calendar year and almost one thousand Planning Certificates have been lodged with Wingecarribee Shire Council since the start of January.

Wingecarribee Shire Council’s Deputy General Manager Corporate, Strategy and Development Services, Mark Pepping explained the impact of this figure.

“The number of Planning Certificates lodged and processed with Council is up from the same time last year,” Mr Pepping said.  “For a regional area like us, 1000 Planning Certificates in just three and a half months is a significant number.”

Planning Certificates are prescribed under section 149 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act and the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000.

“Planning Certificates are issued when new houses are built and are also requested by Real Estate Agents and Conveyancers when properties are bought, sold and transferred,” Mr Pepping said.  “The certificate forms a critical part of the contract.”

“Broadly speaking, the number of Planning Certificates issued often mirrors the health of a local property market.

“As we know the Sydney real estate market is red hot at the moment and historically, our Shire has followed the trends happening in Sydney,” Mr Pepping added.

Factors that have affected the number of Planning Applications lodged include the current record low interest rates and increased number of land sales.

“A number of new subdivisions have recently come to the market including the Renwick, Nattai Ponds and Darraby developments and that in turn has also affected the number of applications we’ve received,” Mr Pepping said.

At present all Planning Certificates are manually processed by Council.

“When Planning Certificates are lodged with Council, over 20 different criteria have to be checked, verified and signed-off before they can be issued,” Mr Pepping said.  “This is currently handled manually but because of the increased volume of certificates we’ve received of late, we’re working with staff to look at ways in which we can speed up the return of paperwork.”

“We are investigating the introduction of systems which will automate the ordering, production and return of certificates within a shorter timeframe than is currently experienced.

“We’re treating the backlog of Planning Certificates as a priority and we apologise to any customer who may be currently awaiting a return of their Planning Certificate,” Mr Pepping said.

“In the interim, we’re directing more resources to help alleviate the delays that are currently being experienced and assure our customers that we are looking at a long-term solution to help expedite the turnaround of Section 149 Planning Certificates.”