How to get pools and spas approved in record time
The most common question I receive from clients is: “Why is my Development Application taking so long to be approved for a seemingly minor project?” Unfortunately, this is not such an easy question to respond to, because there are so many variables involved with the DA assessment process that make it difficult to give an exact time frame. However, I believe there are ways in which you can improve the time frames for your DA.
For anyone involved with the construction of pools and spas, here are some key tips to ensure a smooth and quick approval.
Top tips for DA approval
- Source the right consultant team, such as an architect and urban planner.
- Ensure the plans detail the location of pool equipment and that it will be acoustically treated to minimise noise impacts to the neighbours.
- Check whether there are any sewer or stormwater pipes running below the ground. Use the Dial Before You Dig website for free and fast access to maps.
- If the size of the pool and spa is over 40,000 L, you’ll need to submit a BASIX Certificate, which assesses the energy used by equipment such as pool heaters and pumps.
- Where your proposal does not comply, ensure it can be appropriately justified and explain why the council should support it.
- Ensure there is sufficient landscaping or privacy screens proposed to minimise privacy impacts for both the pool users and the neighbours. This is especially relevant when proposing an above-ground pool.
- Ensure the pool fence is shown on the DA and it complies with the relevant Australian Standards.
- Another common issue with DAs is the ability of the neighbours to object to the proposal. Objections received from the neighbours significantly increase the time it takes the council to assess the DA and can often lead to design changes being requested by the council. Suggest your clients speak with their neighbours prior to lodging the DA to avoid objections and delays.
- Ensure the documentation submitted to the council is accurate to avoid delays.
- Keep in close contact with the council assessment officer so that the approval becomes a priority for them.
- Be patient. It will be worth it in the end!
To avoid delays:
- Ensure pool equipment is concealed and acoustically treated.
- Consider the neighbours’ privacy.
- Ensure you submit the correct documentation.
- Do not cut corners in the information provided as this will likely be picked up by the council.
Local council time frames
According to the latest statistics released by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment (Local Development Performance Monitoring Report 2014–2015), it took an average of 71 days for councils to assess DAs. Another alarming statistic is that for 17 councils, they took on average more than 100 days to determine a DA.
Councils requested further information from 36.5% of DAs and it took on average 52 days for applicants to submit the additional information.
How can an urban planner assist?
In addition to reviewing the relevant state and council planning controls associated with the proposal, we look at whether the site is affected by any constraints, such as stormwater or sewer pipes, trees, steep slope, etc. These types of constraints can significantly impact on the overall design of the pool or spa, which is why we address all of the potential issues at the commencement of the project.
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