I have just seen a report from the Roy Morgan research organisation - http://www.roymorgan.com/~/media/Files/Findings%20PDF/2014/January/5381-Australian%20Made%20by%20Generations.pdf - which says that younger generation Aussies (Gen X & Gen Y) are significantly less likely to "Buy Australian" than my generation. I am personally concerned as we will continue to bleed jobs to the rest of the world if we do not make deliberate decisions to 'Buy Australian". I would love to hear particularly from Gen X and Gen Y friends if they agree. I would also love to hear how we could change this and grow our local producer's businesses.
‘Please be advised that Council at their meeting of 12 March 2013 have made the following resolution in relation to the date for substantial commencement for the purposes of the Phase 1 Construction Kickstart (100% discount) due to the wet weather currently being experienced on the Gold Coast:
Last Monday, I was privileged to be part of a UDIA seminar in Brisbane where Ian Walker, Assistant Minister for Planning Reform + 3 departmental officers explained some of the changes coming up in the planning arena in coming months.
James Coutts explained the changes to the State Planning Provisions which were to be compressed from 14 to 1 with some additional guidelines attached for smaller Councils who did not have significant planning resources to implement the new Provision. The Department has set Marc 13 as its deadline.
Julie Saunders spent quite a bit of time talking about the change to a single Referral Agency when any state agency is triggered, being DSDIP Department, who will circulate documents to all required referral agencies (so an applicant will not be caught by or guilty of missed referrals). DSDIP will co-ordinate a single response for the applicant that will express the “State’s position”. Documents will be lodged electronically. Details of fees are yet to be worked out. The other element that they are wanting to resolve is mapping accuracy as well. Timing for implementation is March 2013, but most felt that to be overly optimistic.
Paul Eagles talked about the roll back of the Coastal Plan regulations to pre-January 2012. SPP 3/11 is suspended for, I think, 6 months, when the new overall SPP will be in place. Part 2 of the current policy has not been suspended and still is to be complied with. I will write some further information on that in the near future.
Overall it was an encouraging status report with lots of positive change being rolled out to simplify the development assessment process.
Last Thursday night Councillor Caldwell gave the development industry an update on the take-up to date on Council’s Construction Kickstart programme. To date more than 100 enquiries had been made with almost 90 applications for consideration under the Kickstart programme with the majority of those accepted. Projects rejected were largely ones already under construction. Council is hopeful that State Government reviews of the whole Infrastructure Charging regimes will be completed during the period of the Kickstart programme to give long-lasting fairer distribution of the costs of infrastructure provision, so was clear that the current interim measures will not be extended beyond the 12 months timeframe. For developments that have DA the full discount available cannot be claimed if projects are not substantially commenced by 1 April next (i.e. substantial construction done, i.e. slabs down/ walls up or major earthworks substantially done). The half discount then will apply. For projects which do not have DA yet, the ability to claim the full discount will be difficult to achieve, unless BA and other OPW documentation is done in parallel with DA processes, with the attendant risks of changes being required from the DA conditions. Do ensure you speak to your town planning consultants if you have any questions or to us. We’d be happy to give you a no-obligation advice.
Wednesday October 24th, 2012 - Buy1Give1 Cambodia Connection
As many of you know, we were able to get our Cambodian charity – Cambodian Hope Organisation (CHO) - accepted as a Worthy Cause by the Buy1Give1 organisation which has enabled them to not only receive support from our clients but also from a range of others in the B1G1 family. In January B1G1 is organising a short visit to 3 Cambodian Causes supported by B1G1 donors, including our own CHO. I have committed to joining the group and will be in Cambodia from January 6-10 and look forward to bringing you my personal updates on the great things being done there and to bring back the appreciation of the organisations and their clients. I am also taking the opportunity to extend my time away to visit our daughter and her husband in Myanmar (Burma) where she is currently with Doctors Without Borders (MSF). There may be some opportunities to expand the B1G1 giving family into that country also. Who knows?
The Gold Coast Council’s Construction Kickstart is a fact and working. Our first response was received last Friday confirming that a development of 30 apartments in Labrador was eligible for the Kickstart stimulus and an amended infrastructure charges notice issued, reducing the infrastructure charges from $203,056.70 to $70,441.72, a saving of more than $130,000.
We would expect this level of reduction to be typical for the temporary reductions for most eligible residential and commercial development. For increases in floor areas for existing non-residential uses or changes to existing approved commercial uses, reductions are not temporary and are full 100% reductions. Other reductions also apply, so please call us if you have any questions. Needless to say we have one very delighted client who will be turning soil in coming weeks.
Ipswich City Council - Speeding things up
Ipswich City Council has announced that, as of October 1, a number of development applications have been included in a 5-day turnaround initiative, dubbed “Hit the Fast Track” by Cr Paul Tully, to enhance the DA process in the City.
These include single residential uses, dual occupancies, boundary realignments, multi-residential developments of up to 10 units, subdivisions of up to 10 lots and some other minor MCU and Operational Works applications, provided there are no State Government Referrals nor other significant constraints. “It’s all part of ensuring Ipswich maintains competitive development assessment processes that are consistent with the aims of the city” he said. - http://www.ipswich.qld.gov.au/about_council/media/view_release/?action=viewMediaRelease&id=3732
After all the negative media re the state of the State economy (reflected in the downgrading of our credit rating today), there was little hope of significant stimulus for the development industry but the changes to the first home owner’s grant is certainly good news for new home construction which should stimulate employment in domestic residential development.
New State Legislation
Changes to the planning legislation were tabled in Parliament yesterday. I will do a review of the 130+ pages of legislation and explanatory information in coming days but media statements indicate some significant changes, perhaps the most significant being that a losing party in a planning appeal could, “where the Court sees fit” be liable for all costs. This is a massive disincentive for community groups to be involved in P&E Court matters, so I will check the fine print to see what checks and balances are provided to not shackle legitimate community interest appeals. Greater access to “no cost” mediation for community groups and individuals is a welcome change. A single state referral entity will simplify processing and changes to state resources entitlements are overdue and welcome.
Council will vote today on changes to infrastructure charging that will be of significant benefit to the development industry on the Gold Coast, including, for smaller residential and commercial developments, a 100% holiday on all but water and sewer charges for development substantially started between October 1 and April 1 next and a 50% holiday for the following 6 months. More significant perhaps will be the 100% holiday for ALL charges for non-residential development starting in existing commercial premises with community groups still eligible for 50% of water and sewer charges. Changes commence on October 01.
Monday September 10, 2012 - Major Changes to Gold Coast Infrastructure Charges!
This week promises to be one of the most significant weeks in the development industry on the Gold Coast.
Council is intending to bring down their much awaited changes to Infrastructure charges before they go into recess on Friday, with a report proposed to planning committee on Wednesday. Given the well-publicised difficulty they have been experiencing in working out the details (the announcement has been deferred more than once), it is likely to not give everything the industry would like but, notwithstanding, anything that facilitates getting projects up and running quickly is great for our industry. We believe the changes should also be positive for our community and charitable sector clients and colleagues.
The other key issues are occurring in State Government with the premier announcing this morning that tomorrow’s budget will have significant assistance to the industry. Also amendments to the planning act provisions are also scheduled to be tabled on the floor of parliament tomorrow. We heard from the special minister for planning reform, Ian Walker, recently with a group of Gold Coast planners and architects, that the amendments would be very targeted towards getting State referral issues distilled to a singular State referral agency response and that new dispute resolution measures may be involved – all helpful. (More significant amendments to the planning act are due to go to Parliament in February 2013, which will deal with infrastructure charging and the expediting of Council assessment.)
Keep in touch with local and Brisbane media this week to pick up on these significant changes that will hopefully see the green shoots start to grow and see our industry up and working again.
Our next post will give a snapshot on the implications of these changes
Councils are concerned about the impact of home based businesses upon the amenity of residential areas and place limits upon the scale and operations of home businesses, particularly in regard to hours of operation, staff numbers and additional visitor traffic.
Most Council's publish user guides for home businesses on their websites or provide them at their town planning enquiry counters. Whilst many small-scale, low-impact activities, may not require applications for approval it is always recommended that professional advice be sought.
If the scale or type of activity or service requires the lodgement of a development application, or the process is unclear, it is recommended that you speak with a professional town planning consultant and engage their services.
It is possible that nothing may happen and you can continue to operate uninhibited. However if your local Council receives a complaint that you are operating without an approval, they just investigate the complaint and will issue a breach notice that you are operating unlawfully in that you do not have a development approval to carry out your activity. (Such complaints will usually come from a neighbour, a competitor or a disgruntled employee).
You will usually have three options:1. Cease and desist the activity;2. Make application to Council to gain approval for the activity;3. Do nothing and risk being required to have to go to Court and/or pay a large fine.
Buying Investment Property?
Some research data published recently by Property Councilof Australia indicated that the most significant current activity in the commercial/ retail and industrial sector of property sales was in the $2 to $5 million price range.
Activity in this sector was being driven by self-managed superannuation funds and consortia of individuals.
Do you know what Town Planning Approvals apply?
This investment sector is generally not resourced with experienced property lawyers and consultants and a recent enquiry we received highlighted the traps that this can cause.
A client with an industrial property that had been vacant for some time took on a new tenant on a 3 year lease. Not long afterwards they received a town planning breach notice from the local Council that may mean them having to close and the owner losing a key tenant thus rendering his investment significantly compromised.
This is an all-too-frequent occurrence.
A similar situation can arise with someone purchasing a property with existing tenants without realising that the existing tenant may not be operating lawfully under the relevant town planning scheme.
What information should I look for?
It is always important that the correct searches are undertaken to ensure that approvals are in place for the activities being undertaken or proposed for the property.
It is imperative that investors request that their lawyers get the correct level of search to be satisfied that existing uses are lawfully established. At the least, this should provide copies of town planning approvals and the conditions related to those approvals.
If compliance is critical to the investment, it may be necessary to have a compliance check to ensure that conditions of approval have been complied with.
If there is any doubt, they should engage their preferred town planning consultant to check the certificate and the town planning scheme to safeguard their investments.
If the investor does not have their own town planning advisors, our staff can provide that advice for properties located in Queensland or northern New South Wales, the area in which we operate.
Noel Grummitt has more than 35 years’ experience in the development industry and is qualified in civil engineering and town planning. He is principal of Grummitt Planning, a town planning consultancy on the Gold Coast and Ipswich. The company has provided town planning advice to the full range of property investors and developers and represent many organisations in the charitable sector locally and overseas through Buy1Give1.