Conference paper
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Abstract: The time taken to approve residential development by local councils has long been identified as a central factor in debates centred on housing affordability. Many argue that delays in approval limit housing supply and thereby place upward pressure on prices. This paper explores two significant changes to the policy framework directing development assessment in NSW over the past 5 years: the implementation of Part 3A within the NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment Act, 1979; and, a series of reforms implemented under the Improving the NSW Planning System agenda. According to the Minister for Planning these reforms will significantly decrease the average time taken for assessment. Unsurprisingly, local government claims that these reforms will: reduce the amount of funds made available for services/infrastructure; reduce local autonomy; and, change the local character of neighbourhoods. However, from a planning/development assessment perspective, these opinions are far from universal. In the context of this changing policy environment, this paper explores the experiences and opinions of councils from across NSW. The paper presents the results of interviews conducted with senior officials responsible for development assessment. Each of these policy changes is discussed in the context of the diverse populations and development pressures facing councils across NSW.

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