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The NSW Government recently announced that the pre-approval notification for complying developments will be removed for rural and regional areas, prompting some to call for the new rules to extend across the State. 

The changes to the existing Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 will remove the 14 day pre-approval neighbour notification for residential complying development and reduce the pre-construction neighbour notification for new buildings and additions.

Developer lobby group Urban Taskforce is now calling for the rules to be applied across New South Wales including the urban segment instead of just the rural and regional areas.

According to Urban Taskforce CEO Chris Johnson, the delay for a complying development of 14 days while neighbours were notified raised false expectations that changes could be made. Though it was understandable rural councils raised concerns about the delays to what were essentially simple projects, he noted that applications that fit the complying development rules should be approved quickly.

Johnson believes that the logic of streamlining complying development approvals in rural and regional areas must also apply to urban areas. Given that the government’s rules are designed to be compatible with neighbouring development, the proposal should be approved anywhere in NSW if it met all requirements, says Johnson. 

Applicants who want their development proposals to be assessed on merit expect longer timeframes and also expect to have neighbours involved in the assessment process. While it is good practice for applicants to have a dialogue with neighbours about the development, Urban Taskforce believes the applicant should be confident about getting their proposal approved if it fits the rules. Applicants must still notify neighbours two days before construction starts for a complying development approval.

Urban Taskforce believes more categories of buildings can be included in complying codes particularly where the building type has been through the merit assessment system multiple times and the solution has almost become a standard.