Review the steps involved in the Development Application process.
The Integrated Development Assessment System (IDAS) is a single uniform system for development approval that enables relevant state agencies to have input in the assessment process. The system provides for all social, environmental and economic matters relevant to a development application to be addressed at one time.
The IDAS process involves five stages:
The file is entered into Douglas Shire Council’s record keeping systems and then allocated to a Development Assessment Planner.
The planner will review the application and decide if it can proceed further, or if it needs to be stopped/rejected because it is not properly made. Considerations include whether the owner’s consent is correct and the correct fee has been paid.
After this stage and the resolution of any immediate matters, the application is referred internally to Council officers. Internal referrals are dependent on the size and complexity of the Application.
What happens next?
If the application is impact assessable, an acknowledgement notice is sent. For code assessable applications, an acknowledgement notice is only sent if there are external referral agencies. Acknowledgement notices are sent within ten (10) days of lodgement of an application.
The assessment manager then does a full assessment of the application, incorporating comments from other professionals/specialists such as engineers. Sometimes, an information request is sent to you to get more information or clarification.
You can contact your assessment manager at any time during the course of the application.
Information and Referral
Sometimes information needed to properly assess a development application is not provided. Under the Sustainable Planning Act 2009, Council as the Assessment Manager may request further information via an information request. Where further information is required, it must be requested within the following timeframes:
- for impact assessable applications and code assessable applications (with referral agencies) – within 10 days of an acknowledgment notice being issued;
- for code assessable applications (with no referral agencies) – within 10 days of lodgement;
The Act allows for extension of the above timeframes.
External referral agencies can also make information requests. These requests are sent directly to an applicant, with a copy forwarded to the assessment manager.
More information is commonly requested about the following matters:
- investigations into potential flooding and/or overland flow;
- stormwater disposal;
- unclear plans or lack of plans required to assess the development;
- adequately addressing the Planning Scheme Codes;
- site access, parking and manoeuvring;
If your development application does not have the information needed for assessment, it may take longer to process than a well-made application.
Council recommends you contact the assessment manager to discuss the information request. A meeting may be useful to ensure that all matters are resolved.
Under the Act, you have six months from the date of the information request to send the information to the assessment manager. The information you provide is then assessed. The proposal may need to be amended as a result of the information request.
The application may be refused if the information provided in response to the information request is insufficient to allow for proper assessment of the application.
Under the Sustainable Planning Act 2009, referrals may be required to Queensland Government departments and authorities. There are three types of referrals:
- Concurrence agencies – assess the proposal and may impose conditions of development. Concurrence agencies may also direct Council to approve an application with or without conditions, issue a preliminary approval only, or refuse an application.
- Advice agencies – assess the proposal and can recommend conditions and/or determination of development.
- Third party advice agencies – may have an interest in an application.
- Referral agency requirements or conditions must be received by Council before a decision can be made on an application.
The Sustainable Planning Act 2009 requires certain development applications to be advertised or publicly notified. This notification gives interested community members an opportunity to review and provide comments on a development application.
Details of the proposed development must be included as part of public notification to ensure that the public is aware of the existence and nature of the application. This enables interested parties to make a ‘properly made’ submission.
The use of the Planning Scheme definitions alone may not be sufficient in some cases to satisfy public notification requirements. It may also be appropriate to show the proposed scale or intensity of the proposal, for example the number of units proposed.
Public notification of an application is required if any part of the application requires impact assessment. This includes an application that requires both code assessment and impact assessment.
Submitters for impact assessable applications may choose to appeal the Assessment Manager’s decision in the Planning and Environment Court.
Guidelines and timeframes for public notification
Public notification ceases after the last date for the lodgement of submissions.
When the notification period has ended, you must, within three months, give the assessment manager written notice that the notification requirements under the Act have been met. This notice is called the ‘notice of compliance’.
The following public notification requirements apply:
- Publish a notice (at least once) in a newspaper circulating generally in the locality of the land the subject of the application;
- Place a notice on the land the subject of the application (in the approved form as detailed in the Act) for the full notification period. The notice must be maintained from the day it is placed on the land until the end of the notification period;
- Give notice to the owners of all land adjoining the land the subject of the application. This includes an owner of an adjoining lot that has a common boundary with the subject site, whether such boundary is measurable or not.
The notification period is a minimum of 15 business days. It may be longer for some applications or over the Christmas Period. It is recommended that you seek advice as to the notification period prior to commencing public notification.
Notification can start as soon as either the:
- acknowledgement notice is given, provided there are no concurrence agencies and that the assessment manager states in the acknowledgement notice that is does not intend making an information request, or
- information request period (as described in the Act) ends and if no information request has been made during this period, or
- applicant responds to all information requests and gives copies of any responses to the assessment manager.
Assessment and Decision
The Assessment Manager follows specific legislation when assessing development applications. Once submitted, Council will assess, make a decision and advise an applicant whether their development application has been successful.
For each development application, the Assessment Manager must:
- assess the application against all relevant State, regional and local planning legislation;
- consider the purpose of all relevant Codes; and
- consider all submissions made within the public notification period
In terms of State and regional legislation, Council must consider the purposes of the Sustainable Planning Act 2009, any relevant state planning policies and the Far North Queensland Regional Plan.
At the local level, Council must consider the Douglas Shire Planning Scheme. The objectives of planning legislation are very important in the assessment of development applications. The best indicator of a proposal’s suitability is how well it complies with relevant Codes.
Applications are decided either at Council meetings or through a delegated process.
How applicants are notified
Applicants receive a decision notice within five (5) business days of the delegate or Council decision.
Anyone who has made a properly made submission receives notification of the decision. If approved, the decision notice sets out the terms of the decision, appeal rights and conditions and in the case of a refusal, the reasons for the refusal.
Negotiated decision notice
The applicant has a 20 business day appeal period. However, the applicant may suspend the appeal period to lodge a negotiated decision notice.
The notice must be lodged within 20 business days of suspending the appeal period.
The written representations in the notice must state what parts of the decision notice the applicant wishes to negotiate and why (for example, a condition of development). Council may amend the decision or refuse to amend the decision.
The applicant then has the balance of the applicant appeal period to lodge an appeal if they do not agree with Council’s negotiated decision notice. The balance is the 20 business days less the number of days between the start of the applicant appeal period and the date of the suspension of the appeal period.
Conditions are included on every development approval. They form part of the development approval package and set out the circumstances in which the approved development may proceed.
All conditions are required to be reasonable and relevant, having regard to the proposal and planning requirements.
Legal effect of conditions
Conditions are an integral part of an approval and it is an offence under the Act to:
- fail to comply with a development condition;
- breach a development condition.
The conditions bind each and every individual and company who undertake any work under the development approval.
The development approval and conditions are binding on the land (stay with the land), regardless of a change in ownership.
Consequences of breaching conditions
All conditions of development must be met by the applicant. Failure to meet the required conditions may have significant impacts on the surrounding area and may result in an unlawful development. Council has a compliance officer who investigates possible breaches of development approvals. The consequences of unlawful development may include:
- court action;
- the requirement to lodge a further development application.
This can be a costly and timely process.