The development consent process in the City of Sydney is an essential component of the planning process. The development consent process enables a developer to build on land that has been zoned for development. There are some particular factors to consider in the development consent application, including: the impact on the environment, the impact on neighbours, and the impact on the residents of the area. Developments that will be zoned for building can only be built if development consent has been obtained before they are built.
Permission can only be obtained after negotiation between the developer and the relevant council departments. Once the development consent has been gained, it cannot be changed or cancelled. It cannot be withdrawn even after the completion of a project. The only option available to a developer is to withdraw the development consent. If they do this, they must notify the local council no later than one month before they begin work.
The primary function of the development consent is to protect the natural environment of the city. The integrity of the natural environment is dependent upon the protection of the natural wetlands and the floodplain. Without development permission, any activity which alters these areas, such as water treatment, could result in severe fines or charges under the Environment Protection Act 1992. Without the implementation of steps to protect the natural environment, we are placing ourselves in danger of losing the wetlands and flooding plain.
The planning department will consider the level of community consultation and involvement with respect to the proposed development to decide whether or not the area is suitable for development. If more information is provided to the local community than was required in the application, or if there is a significant change in the proposed development that requires further consideration, then the application will be declined. This is part of the planning process, and it is a necessary safeguard to ensure the success of the project.
The benefits derived from development consent applications are numerous, and they are all good reasons to make sure that your next project does not require development consent. These reasons include improved connectivity between the planned development area and the rest of the Sydney city region, increased housing density, more opportunities for businesses, and improved transportation links. Another benefit is the protection of natural wetlands, which play an important role in the ecosystem. Without the installation of barriers to prevent entrance to the wetlands, the integrity of the wetland area would be unduly affected. More importantly, the wetland area is highly valuable, contributing greatly to the aesthetic value of the city.
It is essential that any developer seeking development consent must provide adequate evidence to the planning authority as to why their proposed development will have little or no impact on the environment. This evidence can take many forms, but a great deal of it comes down to science – how the project will affect and enhance the environment and its indigenous heritage. Planning approvals should not only be granted on the basis of scientific evidence, but should also take into account the views of local residents and business operators. It is always best to consult with people who will actually be affected by any change, rather than just scientific experts.