Q: What cost is involved in finding and remarking my property boundaries? Edit

A: Our fee is dependent on the availability of survey marks in the area. In a newer area, we would expect to find more survey marks, making our job easier and quicker and thus reducing our fees. Some of older areas of Bundaberg were first surveyed in 1880. The survey plans are inaccurate and hard to read, making our job of reinstating the boundaries more difficult and expensive. A surveyor needs to research and purchase any survey plans in the immediate area, prior to going on site to find and measure the surviving survey marks. Our measurements are then compared with those on the original plans of survey, and fencing and occupation taken into account prior to calculating and reinstating the boundaries. Our fee to place one corner peg is often similar to that of remarking all of the property boundaries, as we incur most of our costs in purchasing plans, finding reliable survey marks and calculating where the boundaries are. On completion of the field survey, we are required to prepare a survey plan showing the boundary dimensions and the survey marks found; this also aids any future surveyors. We are happy to provide a fixed fee for any survey, just let us know the real property description and address.Back to top

Q: Should my neighbour pay for half of the surveying fee to remark my property boundary? Edit

A: This is addressed in the Neighbourhood Disputes Resolution Act 2011, and put simply is as follows—if the neighbour indicates that they know where the true boundary is and that, once surveyed, this position is confirmed as being correct, then they are not required to contribute towards the cost of the survey. If the position that they indicated was incorrect, then the surveying costs should be shared equally.Back to top

Q: Can InsiteSJC guarantee an approval for a development application? Edit

A: There is an inherent uncertainty in lodging any application. Even so, we rarely receive a refusal. We take our clients and their projects through a process that provides increasing certainty as we progress. We are familiar with the issues and can give a client a very good indication of an application's outcome before lodging it. Insite SJC does not like surprises like refusals or unreasonable conditions either and that is why we 'do our homework' early. There will always be some uncertainty for applications...otherwise there would be no need for them and your project would be 'self-assessable'. Sometimes the unanticipated, and unreasonable, happens despite thorough investigations before lodging an application. We can help a client through a process of seeking a negotiated decision notice or lodging an Appeal.Back to top

Q: How much would it cost to obtain a development permit from the Council? Edit

A: Each development project is unique. Insite SJC tailors each project plan to suit the client, the issues, and the extent of the services required to achieve the client's goals. Contact us now on +617 4151-6677 to discuss how we can help on your project. You should consider a wide range of factors that contribute to the cost of obtaining an approval, and then the costs associated with exercising it. Our fees are a small proportion of the cost obtaining and exercising an approval but could save you that amount many times over. Back to top

Q: How long does it take to get a development permit from the Council? Edit

A: Similar to the question about the cost of obtaining a development permit, each development project is unique. As a very rough guide however, you should allow three months from lodgment to approval for a code assessable development project, and four months for a project requiring impact assessment. Bundaberg Regional Council has a 'Fast tracking' system for 'low-risk applications'. There are five categories of low-risk developments: some industries (e.g. in Industry Zone), dual occupancies, multi units (up to 10 units), reconfiguring up to 10 lots in a low density residential zone, and rural boundary realignments. Bundaberg Regional Council's website contains more detailed information including a fact sheet.

Visit our resources page to see the process and timeframes for different project types. Contact us now on +617 4151-6677 to discuss how we can keep your project timeframe 'tight'.

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Q: What is the difference between code assessment and impact assessment? Edit

A: Each planning scheme sets out whether development is impact assessable, code assessable, development requiring compliance assessment, self-assessable or exempt. These are typically referred to as ‘levels of assessment’ or ‘assessment categories’ and represents the range of assessment categories set out in the Sustainable Planning Act 2009. Planning schemes identify whether applications such as 'making a material change of use' or 'reconfiguring a lot' are either impact assessable or code assessable. Stated simply, impact assessment applications need to be publicly notified and receive a broader assessment by the Council and any State referral agencies. With a higher level of scrutiny, impact assessable applications require extra care and attention. Code assessable applications do not require public notification but can still be complex and require a detailed assessment. On the other hand, some code assessable applications can be relatively simple and straightforward. Back to top

Q: Why can't I lodge the application myself? Edit

A: Anybody can lodge an application and sometimes projects are simple enough that even a first-time applicant can make a competent application and receive approval without any significant issues. We find however that, other than the most basic development projects, we can save an applicant time and money, improve the concept or design to improve the return on investment, coordinate other consultants for a better outcome, or ensure conditions and infrastructure charges are reasonable. We liken this to the question of carrying out your own plumbing or electrical work at home…unless you were a plumber or electrician you would not try your own plumbing or electrical work. Similarly for a development application, you are better to stick to doing the work for which you are trained and experienced. At a minimum, it will allow you to be more profitable by using your time where you are more efficient. Put simply—employ a specialist to save you time and money!

We have lodged thousands of applications and, while each site and project is unique, we are probably quite familiar with the issues that the Council would want the applicant to address. We invest heavily in keeping abreast of the Council, State and community issues involved in development projects and can provide expertise to help you deal with them. Talk with us so we can show you how we can help your next project.

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Q: I'm soon to start construction and I want to make sure I put it in the correction location. Why shouldn't I measure up the site or set out my construction myself? Edit

A: Site improvements such as a new building, landscaping, fencing, or walls often represent significant investments. Measuring from existing fences or pegs is risky—pegs can be moved and fences are often not constructed along boundary lines. For the sake of approximately $1500, an Insite SJC surveyor can check and remark the property boundaries, or confirm the property boundaries and set out a new house or other site improvements in the correct position. You can have ‘peace of mind’ that you are not encroaching on neighbouring land. When a surveyor sets out a new building, that guarantees that corners are right angles and that all walls are the correct length—reducing the builder’s risk and saving time and money.Back to top

Q: How do I find out the potential of my property? What is the best way to develop it? Edit

A: The development potential of any property depends on several factors including market considerations such as its street exposure, adjacent land uses, amenity and outlook. One significant overriding factor relates to what the planning scheme says about acceptable land uses, building form (such as height, site cover, or boundary clearances), car parking, minimum sizes for new lots in a subdivision, and connection to services. These are a few of the considerations. In some situations State government requirements may also influence development potential.Evaluating development potential can sometimes be simple but for other sites will require professional input, developing several concept options and examining their viability and feasibility, before refining the ideas to arrive at a site potential. These are the sorts of tasks that we regularly carry out for our clients.Back to top

Q: I think some of the conditions on my approval are excessive or wrong. What can I do? Edit

A: If you act quickly after receiving a decision notice, you should be able to suspend the Appeal period and request a ‘negotiated decision notice’. Such actions are part of the IDAS process under the Sustainable Planning Act 2009. An applicant only has the opportunity to do this once so it is important that any unreasonable or irrelevant conditions be removed at this point.

The question of whether conditions are lawful is a common one. The Courts have said a lot about the two statutory tests in the Sustainable Planning Act 2009:

  1. Conditions must be relevant to, but not an unreasonable imposition on development; and
  2. Conditions must be reasonably required as a consequence of the development.

There is also a considerable body of common law 'tests' that an assessment manager or referral agency should follow in applying conditions, including:

  1. finality and certainty principles: conditions should not defer aspects of approval for future determination and should not be uncertain or vague;
  2. conditions should not modify a proposal to create something different to the development application;
  3. conditions cannot fetter future legitimate discretion by the Council;
  4. conditions must be for legitimate planning purposes only.
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Q: How long will my approval remain valid? Edit

A: A development approval under the Sustainable Planning Act 2009 remains valid until it lapses under section 341, which is generally four years for a material change of use and a reconfiguring involving operational work, and two years for a reconfiguring not involving operational work...unless the approval states a different period. A development approval lapses at the end of its 'relevant period' unless you seek an extension under section 383. There are certain procedural requirements and limitations and it is usually advisable to seek advice well in advance of an approval lapsing.Back to top

Q: What is a 'material change of use'? Edit

A: The expression 'material change of use', or MCU for short, refers to the full term defined in the Sustainable Planning Act 2009 'material change of use, of premises'. It means in respect of land or a building, starting a new use, re-establishing an abandoned use, or materially increasing the scale or intensity of a use. Some examples are replacing a house with a shopping centre, converting an industrial building into a retail warehouse, recommencing a service station after the pumps and tanks are removed, expanding a dining area associated with a restaurant into a garden area doubling its size.

We have, on several occasions, been able to persuade councils that a proposed expansion of a business only involves 'building work assessable under the planning scheme' rather than constituting a material change of use, meaning a simpler development application and saving considerable expense.

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Q: What is the 'Coty Principle'? Edit

A: The 'Coty Principle' refers to an assessment manager or Court being able to give weight to new laws and policies. It derives from a now well-known case of Coty (England) Pty Ltd -v- Sydney City Council (1957) 2 LGRA 117 and provides that weight may be given to a new planning instrument. It is considered and applied in a range of appeals. Thomas J summarises it well in Lewiac Pty Ltd v Gold Coast City Council [1996] 2 Qd R 266:

It would be extraordinary if a planning strategy which was well on the way to adoption, or even adoption with amendment, could be frustrated by developments created in circumstances where neither the Council nor the court could give any weight to the plan as it had so far emerged.

Essentially the principle provides that the new planning instrument should receive more weight the further advanced it is through the legislative path. That means that if the new planning instrument, such as a planning scheme or planning scheme policy, has undergone public exhibition period or is close to adoption it should receive considerable weight.

Consequently, a Council is entitled to take into account its proposed planning scheme when assessing a development application. If proposed development conflicts with the proposed scheme then a Council assessment manager is entitled to give substantial weight to its new document. Conversely, if the new scheme favours a development project, the Council ought to facilitate approval even if there is some conflict with the current scheme.

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Q: What about infrastructure charges? Edit

A: Councils apply infrastructure charges to development projects to help fund trunk infrastructure such as treatment plants and major roads. It is a form of tax or levy that applies to a development project. The 'Adopted Infrastructure Charges Notice' (or, since recent amendments to the SPA, simply 'Charges Notice') that comes at the time of approval will set out the charge and when it is payable. The charges can be quite significant and therefore ought to be a budget item that a developer should consider early, such as at the time of assessing project feasibility. Each Council publishes its infrastructure charges (in an Adopted Infrastructure Charges Resolution) on its website. Ask one of our senior planning staff about the charges likely to apply to your project.Back to top

Q: Like the previous scheme better? It may not be too late! (Lodge a superseded planning scheme application.) Edit

A: Don't throw away the old scheme just yet! It is possible to use provisions of a superseded scheme for up to 12 months after the new one commences. The Sustainable Planning Act 2009 allows you to request that Council apply the old scheme, referred to as a 'superseded planning scheme'. Here are some situations:

  • under the superseded scheme my development was exempt or self-assessable, but is now code assessable or impact assessable: you can request Council to apply the superseded provisions so you can carry out the development without a development approval;
  • under the superseded scheme my development was code assessable, but now it is impact assessable: you can request that Council apply the superseded scheme so that only code assessment is required; or,
  • under the superseded scheme my development was subject to certain code provisions and these are more favourable than the new planning scheme: you can request that Council use the provisions of the superseded scheme to assess the application.

It is necessary to make a formal request to the Council using Sustainable Planning Act Form 2 "Request to apply a superseded planning scheme". Council then has up to 30 business days to decide whether to apply the superseded scheme to the development or to use the new planning scheme. A development application may still be necessary after that decision.

An "owner of an interest in land is entitled to be paid reasonable compensation by a local government" in certain situations where a change to the scheme reduces the value of the interest. (See the SPA Chapter 9 Part 3.)

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