Lodge your DA with council ensuring it is assessment ready
When you have filled out all the required forms you can lodge your application with council. A completed DA will generally include:
- Any necessary specialist reports.
- Council’s DA form and checklist.
- All matters required for a DA as listed in the EP&A Regulation (Schedule 1, Part 1); and
- The required DA fee.
Lodgement can be:
- Over the counter at council (the form from your council will advise) as either paper copies or on a USB.
- Online with some councils.
Lodgement is the formal start of the DA process. Council will check that all the information has been provided. The EP&A Regulation sets out timeframes and procedures that must be followed by a consent authority in assessing a DA. If the information you provide is adequate the ‘clock’, that measures the time council has to assess your application, will start. If the information is inadequate the clock stops until the required information is provided. This is important as you may have the right to go to court to seek a determination of your DA if council does not determine your DA within the specified time frames.
It is your responsibility to provide all the required information and to make sure your DA provides enough detail to enable council to make a decision. Getting this right will save you and your council time and money.
Fees are set out in the EP&A Regulation and must accompany an application. They are based on the estimated cost of the development that you must provide. Your team needs to ensure the estimates are accurate. Speak to council about additional fees and charges.
Neighbour notification and advertising
Once your DA is lodged and checked, formal neighbour notification may occur. Notification can take a number of forms:
- Individual letters to local residents.
- On-site notice.
- An ad in the local newspaper.
Neighbour notification is a key element in the DA process. Raising issues can be a positive, value adding exercise as all stakeholders work together for a mutually beneficial outcome.
The on-site notice and newspaper ad mean that your DA is on public exhibition and any person can make a submission.
In each case, the plans and application are made available at the council offices, perhaps at other locations (such as the local library) for public inspection and generally on council’s website.
Referrals (internal and external)
Your council has internal experts who will comment on different environmental issues. Many councils have a meeting of experts to check DAs after they are lodged to ensure the information is adequate to make a decision.
Some government agencies have special roles to provide comment or agreement/approval within their areas of expertise. This is a consultation or concurrence. Some examples include a consultation with the NSW Rural Fire Service if your property adjoins bushfire prone land, or the Office of Environment & Heritage if your proposal is near or affects a State heritage item.
Allocation to your assessment officer
An assessment officer will be allocated to you and they will be your key point of contact. It is good practice for council to set a future ‘call back’ date when the assessment officer will ring you to introduce themselves, discuss progress and address any issues arising (if necessary).
Council’s resources and the assessment officer’s time is best spent assessing your application. Assessment officers usually have a lot of applications to assess and frequent calls will slow this process. It’s recommended that you wait for your assessment officer to contact you. If there is a significant issue or need for clarification, your assessment officer will contact you prior to your call back date. Most councils determine straightforward and complete applications in 40 days or less.
Key points of contact will be:
- Initial setting of future ‘call back’ date.
- Site inspection – you can attend.
- ‘Call back’ date.
- Council seeking additional information.
- Council advising you of its decision.
Remember if you have engaged someone else to be the applicant on your behalf then council will contact them, not you (e.g. consultant, project home group).
In some instances council may request to speak to a member of your specialist team e.g. engineer.