Council responds to DA ‘collapse’ claim

DESPITE criticism from its own deputy mayor, Eurobodalla Shire Council claims it was in the top 12 councils in the state for approving development applications, per staff member, last financial year.

Following deputy mayor Peter Schwarz’s claims the number of building approvals in the shire had “collapsed”, the Bay Post/Moruya Examiner sought comment from council about the issue.

Cr Schwarz also asked how many council staff responsible for processing applications were employed when building approvals were at their peak – 445 in the 2002-2003 financial year - and how many were employed last financial year, when only 96 were approved.

The Bay Post/Moruya Examiner put the same questions to council’s media spokeswoman.

“Council is currently sourcing this information which was requested at Tuesday’s meeting as a question taken on notice to the general manager who will be responding soon,” the spokeswoman said. “We will be happy to let you know when this report appears in the business paper.”

She also referred the Bay Post/Moruya Examiner to the NSW Department of Planning website, where the latest information was only relevant to the 2010-11 financial year.

Council approved just 83 houses this financial year, according to the ABS.

However, Department of Planning figures stated there were six-and-a-half fullitime staff members that worked on 757 development applications in the same period.

Council’s temporary general manager Rob Noble said the shire had determined almost double the number of development applications compared to the average of other councils in NSW.

“The state average for the number of planning applications per planner was 62, but the Eurobodalla achieved 116 applications per planner, significantly higher,” he said. “Eurobodalla was in the top 12 councils in the state for the number of DAs determined per planner.”

The earliest information available on the NSW Planning Department’s website about Eurobodalla DA staff was in the 2006-07 financial year – when council approved 201 houses.

During this time, eight staff were employed and determined 941 development applications, meaning each staff member processed about 118 applications each.

This placed the shire in the 20th best position in the state.

When asked why the number of building approvals had dropped so dramatically, Mr Noble said there were a number of factors. 

“Building activity depends on many factors that vary with the state of the economy, including interest rates, availability of mortgage funds, government spending, and business investment,” he said.

“Large financial changes or shocks such as the global financial crisis of 2008/09 can be observed in ABS data.

“The number of building approvals can fluctuate substantially from year to year simply as a result of the short-term nature of many construction projects, and the cyclical nature of the industry.”

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