Changes to Pre-DA Community Consultation requirements for COVID-19
The Pre-DA Community Consultation Guidelines outline a range of consultation processes a proponent is required to undertake for significant developments.
Given the current declared public health emergency our advice is to refrain from hosting physical "face-to-face engagement sessions".
The intention behind this requirement is to reach as much of the community potentially affected by a proposed development. This could still be achieved without the need for "face-to-face engagement sessions", and the planning and land authority would be open to consider other creative ways of engaging with the community in an indirect or virtual manner.
Letterbox drops, newspaper advertising and online information for the public is a reasonable starting point under the current circumstances.
An example that will be accepted as a reasonable substitute for "face-to-face engagement sessions" could involve targeted letter box drops with an invitation to view an online presentation or even a “live feed” from a certain date/time, with the ability to provide online comments or pose questions. This can be achieved fairly easily using current publicly available social media platforms.
The ACT Government has introduced guidelines to encourage developers to have meaningful engagement with the community prior to submitting a development application. The guidelines (610 KB) came into effect on Wednesday 8 November 2017.
A factsheet (80 KB) on how the community can have their say on developments in the ACT is also available for quick reference.
The guidelines were developed in partnership with community and industry through consultations held earlier this year.
What is Pre DA Community Consultation?
Pre DA community consultation is an opportunity for developers of significant developments to involve the community in the early design stages of a development.
The ACT Government understands that early and effective community engagement can significantly benefit the planning and development outcome of a project and allows for genuine feedback to be incorporated into the design of a proposal prior to lodging a DA.
Pre DA consultation guidelines provide both the community and developers with greater certainty as to what the community and Government considers and expects as good engagement practice.
Pre DA community consultation guidelines set out the minimum engagement requirements for developers where the proposal is for:
- building for residential use with 3 or more storeys and 15 or more dwellings
- a building with a gross floor area of more than 5,000m²
- if the development proposal is for more than 1 building—the buildings have a total gross floor area of more than 7,000m²
- a building or structure more than 25m above finished ground level
- a variation of a lease to remove its concessional status.
The guidelines require the developer to make a site plan, indicative floor plans, elevations, perspectives, landscaping plans and the proposed materials and finishes to be made available for the public to view online on the proponent’s website or another appropriate location.
The guidelines also require the developer to conduct face-to-face engagement sessions that are accessible by a diverse cross-section of the community.
Snapshot of the guidelines
The planning and land authority requires, at a minimum, the developer undertake the following:
- Ensure the community is informed about the consultation process and consulted on the proposal.
- Target a diverse demographic (age, gender, race, religion, physical abilities).
- Make available to the community conceptual drawings.
- Make available all relevant documentation - online.
- Conduct face-to-face engagement sessions that are accessible by a diverse cross-section of the community.
Benefits of effective community engagement
Effective community engagement at the initial stage of a proposal can help identify potential issues before they arise, build community trust and support for the project, encourage innovation and will help the final assessment process knowing that potential issues have been identified and addressed. All this said, effective community engagement can bring about greater community/developer unity, greater time efficiencies and cost savings in the long run.
What’s happening now?
The Pre DA consultation Guidelines came into effect on Wednesday 8 November.
What happens next?
The ACT Government will undertake a 12 month implementation review.