Development Approvals

Development Approvals
Playing it Safe

by Sebastian Muscolino - SPS Group

There was a time not that long ago when you could make minor changes to a Development Approval and not be worried out having those changes passed at the Planning Sealing stage. This no longer hold true as the Brisbane City Council is becoming less and less flexible and more ridged in its interpretation of what is a minor change.

Today, unless you original Development Application is lodged in the precise way you intend to build your product, do not lodge the Application. This said, tale the time to 'develop' your product in an incubator before lodging or accept the time and cost consequences.

The Downside
At present, Development Approvals lodged within the Brisbane City Council are assessed within time parameters that can be considered commercial and, most importantly, with some certainty. Unfortunately though, should you Approval require amendment, the process for amendment, referred to as a 'Permissible Change' is far less certain and predictable, in fact the process of amendment can often take longer than the original Approval itself.

Now, whilst the Council allows for what it calls a 'Generally in Accordance' (GIA) change (a minor amendment) to be handled internally at the discretion of the Private Certifier, the reality is that Certifiers are being held accountable if they misjudge the definition of such a GIA change. So, Certifiers are understandably becoming increasingly reluctant to deem a GIA change in fear of it being classified as a Permissible Change. Whilst Developers are placing pressure on Certifiers to deem changes as GIA, the reality is that Permissible Change Applications are becoming more and more common - leading to time and cost delays.

Planning is the Key
To avoid this situation Development Planning is the key. This means being crystal clear as to your product's design at the outset before being submitted for Approval - specifically, the yield, size, bedroom allocations and 'look & feel'. This is not to downplay the significance of set-backs, carparking, common areas spaces, and the like - all of which can plan a detrimental role should a Permissible Change be lodged.

Know exactly what you design needs to be to meet market expectation - that is, DO NOT seek to lodge an Application with the intention to change it after being lodged.

The right, experienced People in your Team will ensure that such a dilemma can be avoided. Gather and conclude all your market research (consumer needs and expectations, design outcomes and value management processes) before lodging your Application. Engage and seek advice from the whole of your Team in all key areas - design, costings, pricing and general marketability.

Development is a Process - it's not easy but it is actually quite simple. That is, there are areas that we know and can predict to de-risk a project to avoid unnecessary time delays and cost over-runs ensuring a Development Approval doesn't require an amendment (post-Approval) is one good example.

About Author

Sebastian Muscolino

Sebastian has 36 years in the property industry and an extensive range of experience in Property Development and Building Construction having being in involved in all aspects of the procurement and delivery process for both small and large commercial retail, residential, office and industrial projects across Australia.

SPS - Synergy Property Solutions

Location:  Graceville, Brisbane

SPS Group

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