Local Government NSW (LGNSW) has hit back at State Government claims that councils are behind the withdrawal of thousands of development applications (DA) amid the state’s ongoing housing crisis.
The council advocacy body has instead called the Government to look at the end-to-end performance of its planning system and its own role in the system, rather than placing the blame on councils.
LGNSW President, Darriea Turley said the state’s housing crisis was a complex issue with a number of contributing factors.
“To play the blame game with councils in the firing line is simplistic and disingenuous,” President Turley said.
“In fact, the NSW Government’s own official housing supply report points to ‘shortages of construction material and labour, rising interest rates, and falling housing prices’ as the drivers of the decline in residential building approvals.
“In 2022/23, councils approved more than 85,095 dwellings in NSW, and the state targets for council-led planning proposals were met.”
She said it was “extremely disappointing” that council planning processes had been targeted by the State Government without any consultation with the sector.
President Turley says she has previously written to NSW Planning Minister, Paul Scully, setting out a range of actions the Government could take to address the housing and homelessness crisis, including:
- “Meaningfully investing in public and social housing after decade-long neglect and a state budget that did very little in this regard”.
- Incentivising owners to return housing stock to the long-term rental market;
- Working in partnership with councils and communities for better density;
- Addressing industry and market barriers to housing supply, which are beyond the control of councils.
“The Government’s own figures show councils are approving 97% of all DAs and that we are very much playing our part in rezonings and housing approvals – the gap that needs to be fixed is in delivery,” the President said.
“In the past two financial years, a total of 146,138 development applications were received by NSW councils. In that time 9,040 withdrawals occurred, which is 6.19% of the total.
“According to the Government’s own planning portal, in those same years, 103,460 development applications were determined, yet we’re not seeing those development approvals translate into homes on the ground with only 83,419 construction certificates lodged and even fewer occupation certificates then following at 70,886.”
She said delays were often the result of the time taken by applicants or government agencies to respond to requests for necessary information.
“The crisis will only be solved with the cooperation of all three spheres of government rather than finger pointing and, as always, local government remains ready as a trusted partner to play its role on behalf of our current and future communities,” said President Turley.