The Renovators – The Best Laid Plans

22/08/2011 8:22 am

The best laid plans of developers and TV producers often go askew when council’s planning officers become involved. This was apparent on last week’s episode when the progress of many of the teams was delayed due to the processing of their development plans with the various local councils.

The show illustrated one of the many obstacles facing renovators, the planning approval process. Some teams were unable to begin any substantial works, because they were waiting on approvals from council. A number of the teams have had to lodge DA’s (Development Application) and CDC's (Complying Development Certificates) to obtain permission to carry out their proposed renovations, including the Inner City Terrace team who had lodged three DA’s, as outlined in the table.

NSW State planning legislation requires councils to make a decision on an application within 30 working days from the date the DA is formally lodged, or 45 working days if the DA has been publicly notified. However, if during the assessment of an application, additional information is required the processing time can be extended.

The 2009-10 Local Development Performance Monitoring report shows that councils in NSW have improved in their processing of DA’s overall, with average determination times for DA’s taking 7 days fewer to be determined than in 2008-09. The typical determination time for DAs was 67 days which is still well off the 30-45 day requirement.

The 5 NSW councils with the longest determination times for DAs were:

  • Cooma-Monaro (163 days)
  • Botany Bay City (128 days)
  • Gunnedah Shire (117 days)
  • Leichardt Municipal (113 days)
  • Upper Lachlan Shire (110 days)

None of the properties featured in the Renovators are located within the council areas listed. However, both of the teams who lodged DA’s, the Shop and the Inner City Terrace had to wait 50 days or over for the relevant councils, Marrickville and City of Sydney to grant their approvals.

We wonder if the producers fully considered the issues surrounding obtaining planning approvals when they put the show together. Despite delays resulting in an episode about not much, it is an important lesson to those would-be-developers inspired by the show, to not underestimate the constraints of council controls and to factor in time delays in getting approvals into their budget and scheduling. It is a shame the show cut out the process and simply alluded to the delays. Viewers would have benefited from getting an insight into the planning approval process a crucial stage in many renovation projects.