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Those troublesome DA’s

The assessment process for development applications has been called into question with communication proving a problem reports Bill Birtles in the October 2006 edition of the South Sydney Herald.

A recent DA was approved by a Council officer without any reasons given for why the objections were rejected. Mark McPherson, a resident of Alexandria, said that after lodging an objection on a development proposal in May, he received no reasons why his objection was rejected, but was told that ‘it was taken into account’ when the DA was approved.

According to the Council, the assessment of a DA takes into consideration a number of things, including the likely impact of the development.

However, in the initial assessment, where a Planning Officer visits the site and considers the proposal, objections about the likely impact are not factored in. Instead, objections are weighed up against the planning officer’s report at a later date.

McPherson says that they should be taken into account when the officer first makes the assessment, because “that’s where most of the ultimate decision is made.”

“There is no clear checklist or report on the objections,” says McPherson, who received no feedback in the four weeks between lodging the objection and the approval. “I would expect a document in their file going through each objection - but no, you’re not sure what their decision regarding your objection is,” he said.

Tony Pooley, Labor Party Councillor, told the SSH, “I think it’s fair to say there’s not an ongoing dialogue for objectors – and if the item is on the verge of going before Council, the people making objections are not properly informed.”

DA’s go before Council when they are particularly contentious. Under the old South Sydney Council, any DA with five or more objections went before the Council. However, there’s no set number for the City of Sydney, with Pooley saying ten objections tends to be the current benchmark.

But with two and a half thousand applications made per year, the Council only deals with about 140 of them - the rest being decided by Council officers.

Larger scale developments generally do go before the Council.

Currently at Rosebery, Hillsong Church is planning to redevelop the old RTA site into a 3,000-seat church, which local residents fear could increase traffic in the area.

Nick, a Rosebery resident, said that traffic management studies need to be prioritized. He pointed out that new units planned for the corner of Portland and Epsom Road could further increase traffic in the area.

A spokesperson for Hillsong told the SSH that traffic management was being examined and that underground parking for 800 cars was currently planned. However, until a DA is lodged later this year, a clear idea of what’s planned for the site won’t be known.

[Source – South Sydney Herald October 2006]