Tuesday, 17 October 2023 11:26

NSW Government red-tape worsening housing crisis, say councils Featured

A new home in Blacktown City in Sydney's West A new home in Blacktown City in Sydney's West WSROC

The President of Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC), Councillor Barry Calvert, has rejected suggestions that councils are responsible for a slowdown in housing development applications in New South Wales and has called on the NSW Government to improve the overall performance of the state planning system.

“Councils in NSW have approved more than 85,000 new homes in the last 12 months alone — representing 97 per cent of all housing applications submitted to councils. Clearly, councils are fully and actively engaged in processing housing approvals,” said Councillor Calvert.

“The state's housing crisis is a complex issue with multiple contributing factors and blaming councils trivialises the problem.”Housing estate in Western Sydney seen from the air

“The housing crisis in NSW has not been caused by councils but is influenced by factors including shortages of construction materials and labour, rising interest rates, and now falling housing prices.

“Successive failures by NSW governments to consult with local councils are complicating the housing approval process.

“For example, the NSW Government’s e-planning portal through which home-builders prepare, lodge and track development applications was created with very little local government consultation and has been a disaster for local government and home-builders.

“The e-portal has layers of complexity for home-builders, has increased the administrative burden on local government and is plagued by substantial performance deficiencies.

“The e-portal is more like an outdated document management system than a sophisticated and comprehensive e-planning tool.

“Also, I get the impression from home builders that staff turnover in the State Public Service and the difficulty and delays in getting responses from government agencies are contributing to delays and lack of responsiveness in processing housing applications at the Department of Planning.

“The sheer number of agencies and functions within the NSW Department of Planning and Environment cluster, too, is not conducive to efficient Government.

“The span of control and the roles and responsibilities of the Department does not allow for effective oversight of those processes responsible for delivering the State’s planning outcomes.

“Western Sydney councils are urging a review of the State public service’s end-to-end processes and capabilities to identify delays to planning outcomes. 

WSROC has proposed a range of actions the government can take to address the housing and homelessness crisis, including investing in public and social housing, incentivizing owners to return housing stock to the rental market, working closely with councils and communities to plan density effectively, and addressing industry and market barriers to housing supply.

“Solving the housing crisis will require the cooperation of all levels of government rather than finger-pointing, and local government is ready to play its role in addressing the issue,” said Councillor Calvert.

“There’s a need for a more comprehensive and cooperative approach to addressing the housing crisis in New South Wales, involving all stakeholders, rather than placing blame solely on local councils.

Last modified on Tuesday, 17 October 2023 11:41

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