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General Manager Update

The NSW Government has introduced a number of changes to Planning legislation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which aim to keep the economy moving, support our communities and keep people in jobs, both now and in the months ahead.   

Many of us may not be aware of these amendments to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act (1979) and whilst they appear to address issues in Sydney, are actually relevant to regional NSW and Blayney.   The objective of the changes to the planning system is to maintain continued productivity, investment and contribute to community wellbeing. 

Councils across the State are supporting their communities through this period by adopting a flexible and pragmatic approach to enforcement and compliance action during the period while any Orders under the Public Health Act 2010, to deal with public health risk of COVID-19 apply.  This includes taking appropriate and necessary measures, to respond to issues arising in these exceptional circumstances, including:

  • Relaxing time restrictions and movement caps for deliveries in existing development consents for retailers such as supermarkets and other key service providers;
  • Relaxing restrictions on the use of footpaths for food premises to facilitate effective social distancing of patrons.

Development Consents

Amendments to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 will provide greater certainty to landowners, developers and the community, regarding when a development has been ‘physically commenced’.  

In response to the impact of COVID-19 on the construction industry, it has become necessary to allow the sector more time to physically commence a project. The changes ensure  that the respective development consent does not automatically lapse during this COVID period, and the applicant does not have to reapply for a further development consent.  

New provisions clearly clarify that certain minor works do not satisfy the requirement for physical commencement. This will assist proponents to ensure that the commencement of works demonstrates a sufficient intent to complete the development.  
Further changes are designed to support businesses and landowners who are dealing with business disruptions as a result of the COVID-19 lockdowns. These changes include:

  • Lapsing periods for development consents and deferred commencement consents have been extended to ensure approved projects can start once economic conditions have improved. Consents granted before 25 March 2020 will be extended by 2 years and all consents granted since 25 March 2020 will have a lapsing period of 5 years (which cannot be varied during the pandemic period).
  • Property owners relying on existing and continuing use rights who are forced to stop using their property during the pandemic will now have 3 years to resume, instead of 1 year.

Construction Work Days

The COVID-19 Construction Work Days Order 2020 allows commercial development to be carried out on weekends and public holidays as long as work was limited to weekday hours and doesn’t involve high noise generating works.

Allowing development to be carried out on weekends and public holidays ensures workers can practice social distancing without a loss of productivity or jobs on construction projects.  

Construction sites must take all feasible and reasonable measures to minimise noise and noisy works like rock breaking, rock hammering, sheet piling, pile driving or similar activities, that are not usually permitted on weekends and public holidays.

Mobile Food Vans

Council has fielded a number of queries seeking clarification about out of town Takeaway Food and Beverage Mobile outlets and Council’s jurisdiction over the permissibility of these pop up Food and Beverage Vans.

The NSW Government’s COVID-19 Takeaway Food and Beverages Order 2020, allows food trucks to operate on any land at any time, with the landholder’s permission.  It also allows ‘dark kitchens’ to be established in any existing commercial kitchen, such as those in community facilities, business premises, cooking schools and function centres, to allow for the preparation of food and meals to be delivered to those at home, in self isolation, or working on the frontline.   All other conditions including not obstructing vehicle or pedestrian access and taking steps to reduce noise still apply, and operators must ensure employees and customers practice social distancing.

Extended Operation Retailers

The COVID-19 Extended Operations Order 2020 allows for retail premises such as supermarkets, pharmacies and corner stores to operate 24 hours per day.  
 
This provides retailers the flexibility to adjust and extend their hours of operation to ensure that the community has easy access to food, medical supplies and essential household goods.  The order also allows for waste removal from retail premises at any time.
 
Retailers that are part of hotels and motels are now also able to provide food and beverages 24 hours per day to people using their accommodation to consume in their rooms.
 
All other conditions still apply, and when operating outside the usual hours of operation, retailers must take steps to reduce noise.

Physical Planning Documents 

The COVID-19 Emergency Measures Bill removed the requirement for Council to display physical copies of some planning documents, which are now available online via the NSW Planning Portal or Council’s website.

Digital documents include Development Applications, Environmental Impact Statements on exhibition, registers of Development Consents, Complying Development Certificates and Construction Certificates.

Documents available on the NSW Planning Portal include state significant development and state significant infrastructure applications and LEPs on exhibition. Documents available on Council’s website relate to localised planning matters, such as Development Applications and consent registers.

Current exhibition periods will be unaffected, and documentation that is required to be made physically available will be made available online for the duration of exhibition periods.

The abovementioned information is general information only. If you have a specific development consent you would like clarification on, or any questions in relation to the abovementioned matters, please call Council’s Planning Department on Ph 6368 2104 so that we may assist you. 

Last modified: 24 Sep 2020

Blayney Shire Council

91 Adelaide Street, Blayney NSW 2799, Australia
PO Box 62, Blayney NSW 2799, Australia
Telephone: (02) 6368 2104
Email: council@blayney.nsw.gov.au

Council opening hours:
Monday to Friday
9.00am - 4.30pm

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