Local Councils Update
Port Stephens Council
UDIA met with Tim Crosdale, Kate Drinan, Janelle Gardner and William Oxley on 28 August 2020.
- Strategic Planning and Economic Development: Council is scoping planning proposals to align LEP with LSPS, and implement infill housing study, aiming to submit both for gateway by end of year. An update to the commercial and industrial land study will commence soon and council will engage with industry early in that process. The Nelson Bay Strategy is likely to be reported to council in Nov/Dec. PSC received a state grant of $600,000 for public domain projects in Raymond Terrace and Nelson Bay town centres
- Williamtown SAP: The Williamtown Special Activation Precinct has been declared and state government is currently undertaking the master planning process, which is expected to take 12-18 months; specialist studies will begin soon (structure plan, engineering, drainage, environment, heritage). An investigation area has been declared and NSW government is engaging with industry and land holders to determine the final sites to include in the SAP.
- Strategic Asset Management Plan: the newly adopted SAMP seeks to directly align infrastructure contributions collected with council’s forward works plan.
- DA Assessments: applications have dramatically recovered post-covid lockdown, with first half 2020 finishing similar to 2019 in terms of volume, but higher in terms of cost of works.
Cessnock City Council
UDIA met with Martin Johnson, Iain Rush, Janine Maher and Karen Forsyth on 15 September 2020.
- Staff Update: Martin Johnson is Acting Director Planning and Environment (Gareth Curtis is now GM at Dungog). Recruiting staff in strategic planning, compliance and engineering.
- Strategic Planning: Local Housing Strategy likely to be exhibited in October/November. An Urban Growth Management Strategy is being developed which council hopes to exhibit along the LHS. Other work include Local Character Study, Greener Places Urban Forest policy and Environmental Lands Study.
- Seniors Living: Council is interested to consult with industry on barriers to delivering seniors housing in the LGA, and ways to address incentives through a DCP review. Contact Rob Corken, Senior Strategic Planner.
- DA Assessment: a slight increase in volume over last year; notably 100% of last year’s DAs were determined by grant of consent.
- Local Infrastructure Contributions and Delivery: the updated city wide local infrastructure contributions plan has been adopted. Council is focused on better linking finance and delivery.
City of Newcastle
UDIA met with Michelle Bisson, Patricia McCarthy and Priscilla Emmett on 24 September.
- Staff Update: Following the adoption last year of a new service unit plan, roughly 25 additional positions have now been almost fully recruited, the majority in the development assessment area. Engineering has a new resource starting in mid-October.
- Strategic Planning: UDIA made a submission to the draft LHS, making recommendations around housing diversity and affordable housing. Council aims to adopt final LHS in November. Council will develop an Affordable Housing Policy and contributions scheme early 2021, and UDIA will continue engagement. Council trying to resolve potential community benefit scheme in Wickham.
- Development Assessment: Focusing on finalising older applications and increasing volume and speed of determining new applications. They have seen a recent rise in commercial DAs. Working with DPIE to address integration issues of Planning Portal.
- Agency Referrals: high volume of Ausgrid referrals, followed by RFS and TfNSW. Will seek engagement with Ausgrid to better understand referral requirements.
- Local Infrastructure Contributions and Delivery: Council have engaged a consultant to undertake a contributions review. Community/industry engagement will begin in 2021, with the review to be completed by June 2021.
- 7.12 Amendments: Proposed changes incorporate UDIA recommendations to move timing of payment (for building work over $10m) to prior to OC (vs CC); and inclusion of items supporting Wickham Master Plan.
Central Coast Council
UDIA met with Ricardo Martello, Shari Driver and Andrew Roach on 4 September, and with Shari Driver and Andrew Roach on 29 September.
- Staff Update: Ricardo Martello is Executive Manager Innovation and Futures. His unit now incorporates strategic planning, economic development, performance and improvement. Shari Driver is the newly-appointed Strategic Planning Manager. She reports to Ricardo, and her responsibilities include strategic planning, ecology and contributions planning. Andrew Roach is Unit Manager Development Assessment.
- Strategic Planning: UDIA emphasised importance of finalising the consolidated LEP, implementing the North and South Growth Corridors and resolving issues around the WEZ.
- Development Assessment: Council has signed up for DPIE’s Council Accelerated Assessment Program and is hopeful it will assist in clearing project backlog. Discussion about the impact of ecology on development sites, including loss in yield and ongoing uncertainty.
- Local Infrastructure Contributions and Delivery: The Warnervale contributions plan is expected to be on exhibition in October. Council is conducting a full review of its contributions plans. DPIE audit revealed issues to work on; council has agreed with DPIE on how to speed up delivery of its balance, and DPIE is allowing more flexibility in how it is spent due to covid. A further meeting will be scheduled to discuss better alignment of financing and delivery of infrastructure.