Planning confusion

The Yass Valley’s local environment plan (LEP) may be complete but it is adding confusion to the development application process.

Planning staff have been using the new and old LEPs to determine development applications since July.

However, residents weren’t aware their applications were being assessed under the new planning guidelines.

Several members of the community with an interest in development spoke in the open forum at last month’s council meeting about their concerns.

Jamie Bush, from survey company Vekta, said he was pleased the issue was being addressed.

“In my opinion this should have been done prior to the exhibition period,” Mr Bush told the meeting.

He lodged a DA that conflicts with the draft plan but wasn’t aware at the time that any weight would be put on the new plan before it was gazetted.

Council staff, on external advice, originally recommended taking the draft LEP into account from the time it went on public exhibition on July 25.

However, councillors decided that created confusion for rate payers who had already put in applications on the basis of the old plans.

Other suggestions were to ignore the draft plan until it was made official by the NSW Department of Planning, likely to be early next year.

Cr McManus said residents needed certainty.

“Putting it into the hands of the minister would make it more uncertain,” he said.

“By adopting a date we will create that certainty.”

Councillors determined that from today, November 14, applicants will need to be aware of changes in the draft LEP.

Staff have been using the July 25 date as the “line in the sand”, a report put to council says.

This was because council had already completed many studies which will apply to the overall plan, and were already ticked off by the NSW government.

“If full weight is not applied to the draft Yass Valley LEP 2012, the distinct potential exists for this strategic context to be undermined and for development to occur on an ad hoc basis.”

Although full weight will be put on the draft plan, until the draft becomes policy any DA that is illegal under the old system won’t be approved.

The final date for all LEPs across the state to be ticked off by the minister for planning is March 12.

Yass Valley Council needs to assess any submissions made during the public exhibition period before sending the document to the minister.

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