THE Richmond Valley local government area has seen a steep rise in development approvals in the 2020-21 financial year, led by a home improvement boom, in what is a silver lining for the local economy despite the ongoing threat of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The past 12 months saw 340 development applications approved by Council, worth more than $67 million combined.
The number of development applications represents a 10-year high for the Richmond Valley local government area.
Richmond Valley Council’s Director Community Service Delivery Angela Jones said the demand in development approvals had been led by a surge in home improvements such as pools, sheds, decks and other renovations.
“Council’s Planning and Development staff have been working closely with all proponents over the past 12 months to ensure the development application process is as smooth as possible,” Ms Jones said.
“Like all local government authorities, Council has a regulatory role but we also aim to educate proponents about what’s involved in a development application and how to make the process as simple as possible.”
Ms Jones said rather than seasoned developers or builders, most applicants seeking development approval were “mum and dad” homeowners looking to improve their properties.
“Council has a dedicated Development Concierge whose exclusive role is to support proponents through the process,” she said.
“For first timers, we understand that the development approval process is not easy and can sometimes come as a shock what is required for even minor upgrades.
“We want to ensure those who are seeking to build or renovate are not bogged down in needless red tape.
“That’s why RVC has a proactive approach to support our community to make the process as streamlined as possible.”
Ms Jones said with the recent introduction of an online-only lodgement system by the NSW Government, all development-related documentation was now submitted through the NSW Planning Portal.
She said most applications and certificates could now be filled out online as well via the Planning Portal, while the remainder could be downloaded from Council’s website.
“We hope once applicants adjust to this new process it will make lodging development applications a simpler process in the future,” Ms Jones said.